No cause for Champagne celebration…

Company fined in asbestos whistle-blower case.

A jury and judge have ordered an Albany-based demolition company and its owner to pay more than $170,000 to a worker who was fired after reporting improper asbestos removal practices by the firm.

The judgment, which followed a jury trial before U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. in Syracuse, supports a U.S. Department of Labor lawsuit that alleged Champagne Demolition LLC and its owner, Joseph A. Champagne, violated the employee’s “whistleblower” rights, the labor department said in a news release.

On June 10, 2010, employee Donald Miles reported to the company’s management that asbestos had been improperly removed at a job site at Gloversville High School, according to court records. The next day, Miles was fired and subjected to verbal threats and legal action by the company, the department of labor said.

Miles subsequently filed a complaint with the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which opened a whistleblower investigation and found merit to the allegation, the department said.

“We are pleased with the jury verdict and the judge’s ruling to hold this employer accountable for violating the employee’s rights,” OSHA Regional Administrator Robert Kulick said in a statement. “Every worker has the right to report potential safety and health hazards without fear of harassment, termination or retaliation.”

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