John Deere Involved in Whistleblower Settlement Agreement with Former Employee

Whistleblower Settlement Agreement mediated at John DeereThe United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently took part in a whistleblower settlement agreement with agricultural, construction, and forestry machinery manufacturer, Deere and Co., operating as John Deere, on behalf of a pipefitter formerly employed at their Moline, Illinois facility. This employee was terminated in June of 2012, after reporting unsafe working conditions and filing a complaint with the agency, following Deere’s failure to correct one of the unsafe conditions. The settlement agreement acts as a resolution to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois in July of 2015, under the Anti-Retaliation provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Though Deere did not admit culpability in the settlement agreement, they did agree to pay their former employee a total of $204,315 in back-wages and “front-pay” and $70,685 in other damages. The whistleblower settlement allows for Deere to make the payments in three installments, to be completed by January 31st of 2018. Another stipulation of the agreement is that Deere will make all efforts to post OSHA’s Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law poster and the OSHA: Your Rights as a Whistleblower fact-sheet, in a conspicuous place at all of its workplaces.

OSHA regional administrator, Kenneth Nishiyama Atha, said, “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. 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.”

OSHA upholds various whistleblower statutes to protect employees from the retaliation of their respective employers, for raising concerns or providing information to those employers or the government as to any potential conflict or health and safety concern. Safety leaders are well-served in maintaining compliance with OSHA standards by allowing for a safe space for their employees to fairly and legally voice those concerns. One resource that employers can utilize to ensure that they are compliant would be an OSHA-approved training course.