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Manufacturer faces Labor lawsuit over employee retaliation

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The U.S. Department of Labor has sued a Pennsylvania manufacturer for retaliating against three employees, including one who suffered finger amputations.

In July 2014, Joshua Elbolde, a worker at manufacturer Lloyd Industries Inc.'s Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania, plant, suffered the amputation of three fingers while operating a press brake without safety guards and was fired immediately after the incident, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on March 8.

In November 2014, Mr. Elbolde filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which opened an investigation. A few days later, fellow worker Matthew Spillane was fired by company owner William P. Lloyd, who suspected the employee was a “rat” who had assisted the injured employee by providing him with pictures of the unguarded machine that caused the amputation as well as photos of other unguarded equipment, according to the lawsuit.

In May 2015, OSHA issued citations against Lloyd Industries for workplace safety violations with total penalties of $822,000. Mr. Lloyd then fired plant manager Santos Sanna — Mr. Elbolde's grandfather — because he believed the manager had cooperated with the agency and provided damaging information during the inspection, according to the lawsuit.

In response, the department has sued Lloyd Industries and Mr. Lloyd seeking to have the employees reinstated and compensated for lost wages and damages after OSHA determined the company violated the anti-discrimination provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act by terminating the employees for engaging in protected activities.

“Lloyd Industries has a long, unfortunate history of putting employees at risk and defying federal officials,” Richard Mendelson, OSHA regional administrator in Philadelphia, said in a statement. “Since 2000, approximately 40 serious injuries including lacerations, crushed, fractured, dislocated and amputated fingers have been recorded. William P. Lloyd refuses to make his company safe. Whenever someone tries, they are fired.”

Mr. Lloyd could not be immediately reached for comment.