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Region 4 News Release: 11-1597-ATL (550)
Nov. 30, 2011
Contact: Michael D'Aquino    Michael Wald
Phone: 404-562-2076    404-562-2078
Email: d'aquino.michael@dol.gov     wald.michael@dol.gov

US Department of Labor's OSHA sues RockTenn Corp. for violating
whistleblower protection provisions of the OSH Act in Fernandina Beach, Fla.

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has sued RockTenn Corp. for an alleged violation of the whistleblower provisions of Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at its Fernandina Beach plant, formerly owned by Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. The lawsuit alleges that management retaliated against an employee for raising safety concerns to company management.

The department's lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division, asks the court to issue an order with remedies that include reinstating full benefits to the employee as well as paying back wages, punitive and compensatory damages; expunging the employee's personnel records with respect to the matters at issue in this case; and granting any other appropriate relief. The suit also requests a permanent injunction against future violations of this law by the employer.

"Employees have the congressionally-mandated right to engage in safety-related matters at their workplace, including participating in accident investigations and contacting OSHA at any time," said Teresa Harrison, OSHA's acting regional administrator in Atlanta, Ga. "We will hold employers accountable for limiting or deterring any employee who exercises these rights."

The employee filed a timely whistleblower complaint with OSHA, which conducted an investigation and found that the employee had repeatedly raised safety concerns with