OSHA News Release - Table of Contents|
US Department of Labor's OSHA settles whistleblower case
against Pilgrim's Pride in Mount Pleasant, Texas
MOUNT PLEASANT, Texas – The U.S. Department of Labor has entered into a settlement agreement with Pilgrim's Pride Corp. in Mount Pleasant to resolve an investigation by the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration into the company's termination of an employee who raised environmental complaints, in violation of the whistleblower provision of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
"Employees must feel free to exercise their rights under the law without fear of termination or other retaliation by their employers," said John M. Hermanson, OSHA's regional administrator in Dallas. "The Labor Department is committed to vigorously protecting the whistleblower rights of all workers."
OSHA initiated an investigation upon receiving a complaint from a manager for water reclamation at the company's chicken processing plant who had alerted the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality when process and storm water containing excessive amounts of chromium, lead and mercury were discharged into the environment. According to the complainant, Pilgrim's Pride stated that the TCEQ did not need to be notified and that sharing the information was not in the company's best interest, and consequently terminated the complainant's employment.
Prior to OSHA issuing its investigative findings, the parties reached an agreement in which the employer will pay the complainant $50,000. Pilgrim's Pride also has agreed to post a notice to employees advising them of their whistleblower rights, purge any derogatory information in the employee's