Renosol suit dismissed, employee returns

Published 9:30 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2016

By Blake Deshazo | The Selma Times-Journal

A lawsuit against Selma auto parts manufacturer, Renosol, has been dismissed after a joint motion was filed between the company and the U.S. Department of Labor Tuesday to dismiss the case.

The dismissal will be final after a U.S. District Judge signs it.

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The U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against Lear Corporation, parent company of Renosol Seating in Selma, in March for retaliating against employees who reported hazardous working conditions.

The complaint was filed after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Whistleblower Protection Program conducted an investigation.

The joint motion requires the company to dismiss a lawsuit filed against Kimberly King and reinstate her at the plant. The company also agreed to pay other employees for the time they were suspended and to purge disciplinary actions from their personnel files.

“Our hope is that this case sends a clear message to employers that OSHA will use any and all methods at our disposal to protest workers’ right to raise safety complaints,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta.

“Every worker should feel comfortable raising concerns about work place hazards to their employer without the fear of retaliation. We are confident that the resolution of this case will help to facilitate a strong safety culture within this company.”

The motion also required Renosol make upgrades to the plant concerning worker safety in regards to exposure to chemicals sued to make foam cushions for head rests.

“Lear represents that it has made substantial upgrades at the Selma plant to the health and safety conditions in work facility spaces where employees are exposed to chemicals used in the foam-making process,” the motion states.

Stipulations for the motion require Lear not to retaliate  “in any way against any employee.”

The motion also requires Lear to post OSHA posters about job safety and health as well as a fact sheet for whistleblower rights. OSHA will also provide annual training to teach employees about protected rights they have under OSHA.

Stephen Bradley, an attorney who represents Renosol, said Wednesday the company had no statement on the motion at this time.

Attempts to reach King were also unsuccessful.