Vermont Equipment Company Ordered to Reinstate Whistleblower Employee
The worker observed environmental concerns involving wastewater.
- By Robert Yaniz Jr.
- Sep 03, 2023
Champlain Valley Equipment has been ordered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to reinstate an employee fired after raising environmental concerns.
According to a recent release, a worker for Champlain Valley Equipment—a Vermont-based company that sells and services agricultural equipment—observed in June 2022 wastewater being pumped from the company's service bays onto the ground near the Winooski River in Berlin. The employee reported their concerns to supervisors and then the Department of Environmental Conservation. Shortly after, they were fired by Champlain Valley Equipment.
The employee ultimately filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, and the agency’s investigation found that the company violated the whistleblower provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. The agency ordered Champlain Valley Equipment to reinstate the employee and pay the worker a total of $145,000. That includes $45,015.72 in back wages, interest on back wages, $50,000 in compensatory damages, $50,000 in punitive damages, and the employee's legal fees.
“The employee had a right to raise valid concerns about potential environmental harm to the Winooski River, an important water source,” OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston said in a statement. “Employers who retaliate illegally against employees who engage in federally protected activities will be held accountable.”
OSHA also ordered the company to remove any reference to the employee exercising their rights under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act from their employment records, not to retaliate or discriminate against the employee, and to post a notice to employees informing them of their rights under the two environmental laws.
Both the company and the employee may file objections to OSHA's findings or request a hearing with the Department of Labor's Office of Administrative Law Judges within 30 days.
Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor for Environmental Protection.