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Region 2 News Release: 08-412-NEW (osha 08-043)
March 27, 2008
Contact: Leni Fortson
Phone: 215-861-5102


U.S. Department of Labor files whistleblower suit against Freehold, N.J., construction company

FREEHOLD, N.J. -- The U.S. Department of Labor has filed suit against Brocon Petroleum Inc. and its president, Richard Kohler, on behalf of an employee who was terminated in violation of the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act. The Freehold construction company specializes in municipal sanitation projects.

The complaint alleges that the defendants terminated the employee in retaliation for the employee engaging in a protected activity. The department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted an inspection of the employer's worksite in response to an anonymous complaint about safety practices at the worksite. The defendants later that day fired the complainant because they believed the complainant had contacted OSHA.

The former employee filed a complaint with OSHA alleging retaliation by the defendants in violation of Section 11(c) of the OSH Act. OSHA investigated the complaint and determined it had merit. After being notified of OSHA's findings, the defendants refused to reinstate the employee to the same or a substantially equivalent position of employment, and to pay back wages or other employment benefits.

"Employees should be free to exercise their rights under the law without fear of termination or retaliation by their employers," said Louis Ricca Jr., OSHA's acting regional administrat