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Region 5 News Release: 11-926-CHI
July 6, 2011
Contact: Scott Allen      Rhonda Burke
Phone: 312-353-6976      312-353-4807
Email: allen.scott@dol.gov      burke.rhonda@dol.gov

US Department of Labor files complaint against Niles Family Dentistry,
owner in Niles, Ohio, for violating whistleblower provision of the OSH Act

CLEVELAND – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has filed a complaint in federal court against Niles Family Dentistry and owner Dr. A. Scott Santucci for allegedly violating the whistleblower provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act by creating a hostile work environment for two employees and forcing them to resign. Santucci harassed the two employees because he suspected them of reporting mercury spills at the dental practice to OSHA on June 6, 2010. The spills occurred on June 2 and 4.

"Failing to protect workers from known hazardous substances such as mercury is inexcusable," said Michael Connors, OSHA's regional administrator in Chicago. "Taking retaliatory action against employees for reporting safety concerns is a clear violation of the law."

Santucci is alleged to have reduced working hours and created a hostile work environment by repeatedly cursing and threatening a dental auxiliary employee who had refused to work until the mercury spills were adequately cleaned by qualified personnel. The employee worked at the dental practice from August 2007 until she resigned on June 24, 2010, citing a hostile work environment.

Santucci also is alleged to have reduced working hours and created a hostile work environment by repeatedly cursing and threatening a second worker after she refused to clean the spilled mercury. The second worker was employed by the dental practice from April 2005 until she resigned on June 21, 2010, also citing a hostile work environment.

The Labor Department is seeking reinstatement of both employees to their positions; payment of lost wages and benefits, including interest and punitive damages; and expunction of any mention of that protected activity from their employment records. OSHA also is seeking