The second largest U.S. chicken producer, Pilgrim's Pride Corp. (trailing only Tyson Foods), has agreed to pay $50,000 to an employee the company fired for allegedly reporting environmental violations.
According to the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) press release, a manager for water reclamation at the Pilgrim's Pride chicken processing plant in Mount Pleasant, Texas alerted the state's environmental agency that water contaminated with high levels of chromium, lead and mercury was discharged into the environment.
So what does the chicken plant do? Pilgrim's Pride fires the manager, stating that notifying Texas officials wasn't in the company's "best interest."
Typical whistleblower retaliation against an employee that doesn't consider company profits to be priority number one.
Luckily, the employee was protected under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act's whistleblower provision. OSHA initiated an investigation, but before the agency released its findings, Pilgrim's Pride agreed to the settlement money, in addition to actions that aim to reverse the chilling effect the company's retaliation could've had on other potential whistleblowers:
Pilgrim's Pride also has agreed to post a notice to employees advising them of their whistleblower rights, purge any derogatory information in the employee's personnel file directly related to the incident and provide a neutral job reference.
These are important steps to minimize the effects of whistleblower retaliation, especially since the agreement prevents the employee from seeking reinstatement at his previous job.
Many whistleblowers have a hard time finding work again because their reputation has been tainted, often unfairly being labeled as a 'troublemaker' … rather than an honest truth-teller...
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
Back to News Headlines