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Region 4 News Release: 11-969-ATL (343)
July 11, 2011
Contact: Michael Wald      Michael D'Aquino
Phone: 404-562-2078      404-562-2078
Email: wald.michael@dol.gov      d'aquino.michael@dol.gov

Georgia school bus manufacturer agrees to pay employee more than $176,000
to settle whistleblower case brought by US Department of Labor

ATLANTA – The U.S. Department of Labor has reached an agreement with Georgia-based school bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corp. resolving a lawsuit filed by the department alleging that the company illegally terminated a maintenance employee because the employee raised safety concerns regarding the proper use of a bucket lift.

The settlement requires Blue Bird to pay the employee $170,800 in back wages plus $5,625 in interest due on the back wages. Should the state of Georgia seek repayment of the unemployment benefits received by the employee, Blue Bird has agreed to pay that amount to the state. In addition, the company will pay the Labor Department's costs associated with the appeal in this case.

"After much litigation, we are pleased with the successful settlement of this case in favor of the employee. The courts confirmed the Labor Department's argument that every employee has the right to report any safety concerns in the workplace without fear of retaliation," said Cindy Coe, administrator of OSHA's Atlanta Regional Office. "The Labor Department will hold companies accountable when they violate basic worker rights."

The case allegedly began when Blue Bird required the employee to use a bucket lift truck to install Christmas wreaths for the company. The employee requested training in the operation of the equipment, resulting in a disagreement with management over whether the employee was trained. That disagreement led to the employee's termination.

An OSHA whistleblower investigation