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Deere settles safety whistleblower complaint for $275,000

Deere settles safety whistleblower complaint for $275,000

Deere & Co. has agreed to pay a former employee about $275,000 to settle complaints that it violated the anti-retaliation provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act by firing him after he reported unsafe working conditions.

The agreement resolves a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Peoria, Illinois, in July 2015 that alleged the unnamed pipefitter for Moline, Illinois-based based Deere was terminated from the Moline facility in June 2012 after reporting the unsafe conditions and filing a complaint with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration after the company failed to correct one of them, the agency said Thursday in a statement.

Deere did not admit liability in the case but has agreed to pay the pipefitter $111,512 in back wages and $92,803 in front pay compensation in lieu of reinstatement, as well as $32,000 in compensatory damages and $38,685 in unspecified damages, according to the release. The agreement allows for the company to make the payments in three installments to be paid in full by Jan. 31, 2018.

The equipment manufacturer also agreed to post OSHA's Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law poster, and OSHA’s Fact Sheet: Your Rights as a Whistleblower, in a conspicuous place at all its workplaces.

“The settlement of this case represents a true win for an employee who was willing to risk his job to ensure workplace safety for himself and his co-workers,” Kenneth Nishiyama Atha, regional administrator for OSHA in Chicago, said in a statement. “Commitment to workplace safety should be commended — not punished. The department will do everything in its power to prevent retaliation against workers who report unsafe working conditions.”
A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment. 


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