Jury Finds Against Employer For Firing Employees Who Cooperated in OSHA Investigation Of Finger Amputation Caused By Unsafe Conditions

Greg Boles
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A jury has found against a Pennsylvania manufacturer of fire safety equipment for firing whistleblowers who cooperated in an OSHA investigation of plant safety violations.  In July 2014, Joshua Elbolde, an employee with Lloyd Industries, suffered a crush injury to three of his fingers, which had to be amputated, while operating a press brake that did not have machine guarding.  William Lloyd, the owner of Lloyd, responded to Mr. Elbolde's injury by firing him and blocking him from entering the plant.  A co‑employee took photos of the defective press brake and other safety violations in the plant and cooperated with an OSHA investigation into conditions at Lloyd Industries.  After OSHA inspected the plant, Mr. Lloyd told an employee that there was a "rat" on the premises helping Mr. Elbolde with his workers' compensation claim.  OSHA eventually fined the company $822,000.00 as a result of safety violations observed during its inspection, and Mr. Elbolde and the co‑employee sued Lloyd over its retaliation against them for cooperating in the OSHA investigation.  A jury found against Lloyd on April 19, and the court will now assess damages in the second phase of the trial.

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