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Region 4 News Release: 11-1562-ATL (569)
Dec. 6, 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 Whole Foods Market
for violating OSH Act's whistleblower protection provisions
Employee of Miami Beach, Fla., store allegedly fired for complaining about raw sewage spill

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has sued Whole Foods Market Group Inc. to reinstate a former employee with full back wages and benefits after the company allegedly fired the worker for voicing and reporting workplace health concerns regarding a raw sewage spillage at its store in Miami Beach.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, resulted from an investigation by OSHA that found the company violated the whistleblower protection provisions of Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act by unlawfully and intentionally terminating the individual's employment at the store, which is located at 1020 Alton Road.

"OSHA takes allegations of workplace discrimination very seriously," said Teresa Harrison, OSHA's acting regional administrator in Atlanta, Ga. "These types of allegations are thoroughly investigated, and employers violating the whistleblower protection provisions of the OSH Act are held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

OSHA is asking the federal court to remedy the situation by issuing an order that includes a permanent injunction against Whole Foods to prevent future violations of this law; reinstating the former employee with full benefits; paying back wages, punitive damages and compensatory damages to the employee; expunging the employee's personnel file with respect to the matters at issue in this case