A former lawyer with Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp. has filed a whistleblower complaint against the company alleging that it was wrongly terminated for raising concerns about pollution from the company’s fluoropolymer operations.
However, the Malvern, Pennsylvania-based company described the complaint as “unfounded” and said it had fired former trial attorney Amiel Gross for violating harassment prevention guidelines and other areas.
The April 6 complaint filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Agency alleged that Gross told the company that it needed more extensive research into potential drinking water pollution from a compound used in fluoropolymer processing, perfluooctanoic acid.
The problem first emerged in 2016 when class action lawsuits were filed over PFOA contamination of drinking water supplies at the Saint-Gobain facilities in New York, New Hampshire and Vermont.
A statement from a law firm representing Gross said he defended Saint-Gobain in various PFOA litigation from 2016 to October 2020.
The complaint alleges that it found in California, Connecticut, New Jersey and Ohio that there were other facilities in Saint-Gobain that processed the chemical under similar conditions.
Gross said he told the company it needed to investigate these facilities but said that then Saint-Gobain CEO Tom Kinisky told him, “If you look you will find it. If you don’t, you can They say you didn’t. ” I dont know. “
Gross claims the company unlawfully fired him when he “refused to cease investigating possible PFOA contamination.”
But Saint-Gobain, with its global headquarters in Paris, sharply denied Gross’s allegations, saying in a statement that his complaint contains “many false allegations”.
“First, the conversation that Mr. Gross claims with former CEO Tom Kinisky never took place,” it said. Second, despite having access to multiple ethics hotlines and numerous opportunities to raise concerns directly with new CEO Mark Rayfield and other senior executives, Mr. Gross has not done so. “
The company said its multi-site work shows it is serious about the remediation, pointing out that it is working under the guidance of New Jersey state officials at one of the sites that Gross has identified in Wayne, New Jersey.
“There are numerous publicly available documents and even newspaper releases that demonstrate the work that Wayne has done, and given his position with the company at the time, Mr. Gross was fully aware of these measures,” said Saint-Gobain.
Gross is represented by the well-known Manhattan law firm Wigdor LLP, which has represented individuals involved in cases against Harvey Weinstein and French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn.