Federal authorities have ordered a California-based e-juice producer to reinstate and compensate a whistleblower who claimed he was fired in retaliation for reporting health and safety violations.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said it ordered Mr. Good Vape LLC of Chino, California to reinstate the whistleblower and pay him $110,000 in compensation. The agency said the whistleblower, a former company manager, reported his concerns about the e-juice producer’s use of certain ingredients to the California Department of Environmental Protection.
E-juice is the liquid used in vaping devices. Mr. Good Vape, which calls itself a “small craft company,” sells novelty e-juice flavors, such as Bakers Dozen, Sweet Lovin, Melon Head, and Moon Sugar, according to Riverside, California’s The Press-Enterprise.
Mr. Good Vape suspended the manager on May 6, 2015, after learning that he had informed government officials. The company then terminated his employment two days later.
OSHA officials investigated the whistleblower’s allegations and found that he was protected by the whistleblower provisions of the Toxic Substances Act (TSCA) and the Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA), which prohibit employers from lashing out against employees who report wrongdoing.
The OSHA investigators also determined that the manager’s whistleblower activities were the motivating factors in his suspension and termination.
“No one should lose his job for raising reasonable concerns about potential threats in the workplace,” said Barbara Goto, OSHA’s Regional Administrator in San Francisco.
In addition to reinstatement and compensation, OSHA ordered Mr. Good Vape to clear the former manager’s personnel file of any reference to the matter and post a notice informing all employees of their whistleblower protections under the TSCA and SWDA.
Gary Riddle, the owner of Mr. Good Vape, told The Press-Enterprise that he was baffled by OSHA’s decision and planned to appeal it.
“We’ve never had an issue with standards and actually hired someone to make sure we passed all requirements with an open checkbook,” he said.