Earlier this month, OSHA secured an injunction in a whistleblower case that prevents the Lear Corporation – a Michigan-based auto parts company – from any further retaliation against whistleblower, Kimberly King. This injunction is significant in that it protects Ms. King, and other whistleblowers, from speaking out against the company, including disclosures to media outlets.
Kimberly King worked at the Renosol Seating plant in Selma, Alabama, which is owned by the Lear Corporation. The plant produces foam cushions that are used in car seats. When King’s health began to deteriorate, she began to question the effects of her exposure to a chemical called toluene diisocyanate, or TDI. Since she started working at the plant in 2004, King has developed asthma, and often gets winded from walking up one flight of stairs. Although Lear reported that TDI levels were within legal limits, King remained unconvinced and shared her concerns with the media.
King told her story to NBC.com, who released an article discussing the correlation between TDI, and other workplace chemicals, and respiratory conditions like asthma. A consulting physician concluded that the levels of TDI antibodies in King’s blood placed her in the top 25%. According an occupational health specialist at the University Of Cincinnati College Of Medicine, workers can become sensitized when exposed to these chemicals. As a result, exposure to even small amounts of TDI can cause health issues like asthma and other respiratory conditions.
Lear suspended King from work without pay after she and another employee participated in a YouTube video accusing Lear of exposing employees to dangerous levels of TDI. After King continued to voice her concerns, Lear terminated her employment and sued her for defamation and interference with business relations.
After an evidentiary hearing, the court ruled in King’s favor, declaring that her participation in the YouTube video and her comments to the press and OSHA were considered protected activity. In addition, the judge ordered the Lear Corporation to halt any retaliatory action against King, or any other former or current employee.
The court’s ruling in this case asserts that the public deserves a safe and healthy workplace, and those who speak up about perceived dangers should be protected by the law. Moreover, the outcome of this case may help prevent future retaliation against whistleblowers.
Philadelphia Retaliation Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Protect the Rights of Whistleblowers
If you believe you have a whistleblower claim, contact the experienced Philadelphia whistleblower lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green. Our team of will work tirelessly to protect your rights and reach a favorable financial settlement. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, our business lawyers represent clients throughout the Delaware Valley. Call the Law Offices of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green at 215-574-0600 to schedule your free consultation or contact us online.