Labor commissioner resigns amid Amazon probe

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — The head of Indiana’s Department of Labor is stepping down as the agency disputes a federal investigation’s findings that prematurely dismissed citations and fines against Amazon in the death of a warehouse employee.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Friday’s resignation announcement by Labor Commissioner Rick Ruble was not related to the investigation. Ruble has led the department since he was appointed in 2013 by then-Gov. Mike Pence after earlier work with the agency and will leave July 24, the governor’s office said.

Holcomb said Ruble has “left the department in great shape. I appreciate his more than two decades of service and wish him well in whatever is next.”

The labor department’s safety agency absolved Amazon of responsibility in the September 2017 death of 59-year-old Phillip Lee Terry, who was crushed by a forklift at a Plainfield warehouse. That happened despite a state safety inspector seeking a $28,000 fine against Amazon, concluding the company didn’t provide adequate training to Terry.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined the state agency dismissed the four safety violations and fines without receiving proper evidence that a job hazard did not exist or of safety rule enforcement at the warehouse.

State officials responded to the federal agency this past week that it was obligated to dismiss the citations because of insufficient evidence.

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