United Airlines manager caught lying to OSHA in asbestos case


Marty Watters, Investigative Reporter

Sylvia Empen

Sylvia Empen

Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials Sukhvir Kaur and Angeline Loftus recently confirmed that United Airlines facilities maintenance manager Sylvia Empen lied to OSHA officials, and that by doing so Empen broke the law and could face criminal charges.

And as with many federal cases, it could be the cover-up that ultimately lands people in jail.

And for her part in the illegal removal and dumping of asbestos from buildings at United's former World Headquarters (WHQ), jail might be just where Empen is headed.

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Here are the facts:

Empen contracted A&E Services Inc. to remove asbestos from United's former WHQ.

A&E Services hired Mexican day labor on an ongoing basis to illegally remove and dump the asbestos.

In doing so A&E exposed United employees and the public to vast amounts of airborne asbestos fibers.



United employees then filed an official complaint with OSHA.

Ms. Empen told OSHA officials who were investigating that complaint for the record that A&E Services was removing fiberglass insulation and not asbestos.

Now thanks to whistleblowers at United, OSHA officials have learned that A&E Services was in fact removing large amounts of asbestos - not fiberglass insulation - from United's former WHQ, and that Empen lied to them during the investigation.


Thanks to Empen's lies, OSHA prematurely closed its investigation. As a result, United employees and members of the public are still being exposed to airborne asbestos fibers throughout the entire campus of United's former WHQ.

It has also been established in recent meetings with OSHA officials that during their interviews with United employees, OSHA investigators did not inform the employees of their whistleblower protection rights.

That will be very important moving forward due to the fact that United employees have since endured physical threats and retaliations at work for telling OSHA investigators and United management what they knew about the illegal asbestos removal.

Steps are now being taken to ensure that United employees begin receiving the workplace protections that they are due under the federal whistleblower protection laws.

Furthermore, U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon has been informed of this situation and has even received a referral from the New Jersey U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate these developments due to concerns that United has violated the Non-Prosecution Agreement it entered into in a public corruption case with that office.

The question now is: How high up the United Airlines management chain does this cover-up go?

Oscar Munoz, does the buck stop with you?



OSHA is attempting to cover up United Airlines’ criminal behavior


Marty Watters, Investigative Reporter

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) in Chicago is currently doing all that it can to cover up United Airlines' illegal removal and dumping of asbestos from its former World Headquarters located in Elk Grove Village, IL.

Do the people involved in this cover-up even realize the mind-boggling stupidity that they are displaying in their remarkably audacious attempts to make United Airlines asbestos problems go away?

Because in the process, OSHA is deliberately allowing United employees to be exposed to this known carcinogen. By all accounts, what they are both doing is a serious crime!

United was bold enough to buy political considerations from the Port Authority in New Jersey, so why would anyone doubt that United would do the same thing in Chicago?

I mean really it's Chicago!

So that there is no confusion, I am stating unequivocally that United Airlines is being protected by OSHA. And there is undeniable proof that this is the case.

This should come as no surprise to anyone. The protection racket game is part of doing business in Chicago. And the government in Illinois plays the game better than anyone.

Take, for example, how another Illinois company - Kehrer Brothers Construction, which clearly did not purchase the OSHA Protection Plan - is being treated compared to United.


-----Original Message-----
From: Marty Watters
To: Anthony Santucci (OSHA)
Cc: Sukhvir Kaur (OSHA)
Sent: August 20, 2015 at 11:57 AM
Subject: Fwd: OSHA protects foreign workers - but not United Airlines employees!


Care to comment?

Marty Watters

All indications are that OSHA is more concerned about the rights of temporary foreign guest-workers (H-B2) than they are about the health and well being of United Airlines employees (U.S. citizens) and their families.

Compare the charges leveled against Kehrer Brothers Construction to the well-documented far more egregious violations that are common at United Airlines former WHQ.


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-----Original Message-----

From: Marty Watters
To: Anthony Santucci (OSHA)
Cc: Sukhvir Kaur (OSHA)
Sent: August 11, 2015 at 8:37 AM
Subject: Fwd: Asbestos cover-up at United Airlines


Does OSHA have anything to say in its defense?

-----Original Message-----
From: Marty Watters
To: Megan McCarthy (Dir. Communications)
Sent: August 10, 2015 at 3:25 PM
Subject: Fwd: Asbestos cover-up at United Airlines

Ms. Megan McCarthy

Does United Airlines have anything to say?

Marty Watters

-----Original Message-----
From: Marty Watters
To: Brett Hart (UAL), Ada Dolph (Seyfarth Shaw), Jeff Smisek (UAL)
Sent: August 8, 2015 at 4:28 PM
Subject: Fwd: Asbestos cover-up at United Airlines

Which one of you licensed attorneys would like to comment on the asbestos cover-up going on at United's WHQ?

-----Original Message-----
From: Marty Watters
To: Scott Newland
Sent: August 7, 2015 at 10:28 AM
Subject: Fwd: United Airlines accuses Burns McDonnell

Mr. Scott Newland

United Airlines is claiming that the attached asbestos survey produced by Burns McDonnell falsely indicates asbestos were it does not exist. And, that your firm had an incentive to provide an erroneous survey. United is claiming that the spray-on fire proofing (shaded orange) is not asbestos.

1) Does Burns McDonnell stand behind the survey results provided?

2) Please address United's accusation that Burns McDonnell had something to gain by providing false asbestos test results.

Marty Watters

United Airlines’ illegal abatement at former World Headquarters exposing employees to airborne asbestos fibers


-----Original Message-----
From: Marty Watters
To: Anthony Santucci (DOL)
Sent: July 8, 2015 at 9:12 AM
Subject: United Airlines South Building (boiler room)


As we discussed the attached blueprint of United Airlines south building will direct you to where the illegal asbestos removal in the boiler room was being conducted. (area shaded orange)

Marty Watters




Everyone knows that to run a truly successful protection racket, not only do you need to go to extraordinary lengths to protect those who pay you, you also need to make an example and punish those who don't.

And punishing the average Joe is the one thing that OSHA and the EPA are very good at.

-----Original Message-----
From: Marty Watters
To: Oscar Munoz (UAL)
Cc: Brett Hart (UAL)
Sent: September 17, 2015 at 10:26 AM
Subject: Fwd: United Airlines Illegal asbestos removal and dumping (boiler room south building)

Mr. Munoz

Would you like to see the recordings?

Marty Watters

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Marty Watters
To: Sukhvir Kaur (OSHA)
Cc: Anthony Santucci (OSHA)
Sent: Wed, 24 Jun 2015 19:55:36 -0000 (UTC)
Subject: Fwd: United Airlines Illegal asbestos removal and dumping (boiler room south building)

Ms. Kaur

The fact that you have not replied to my offer below and have not returned my phone calls leads me to conclude that you do not want to see the video recorded proof that United Airlines is illegally removing asbestos from its campus in Elk Grove, IL

My question to you now is: Why do you not want to see the proof?

-----Original Message-----
From: Marty Watters
To: Sukhvir Kaur (OSHA)
Sent: June 11, 2015 at 12:13 PM
Subject: United Airlines Illegal asbestos removal and dumping (boiler room south building)

Ms. Sukhvir Kaur

Are you interested in a video recording of the illegal removal of asbestos from United Airlines facilities located at 1200 E. Algonquin Rd. Elk Grove Village, IL?

Marty Watters


To date, OSHA has shown absolutely no interest in seeing the video-recorded proof that United is illegally removing and dumping asbestos from its former WHQ.

Even though United Airlines has been served up to OSHA on a silver platter!

Much more to come, including OSHA's partner in crime: the Environmental Protection Agency.

 OSHA, EPA, United Airlines, Burns McDonnell and Seyfarth Shaw were all contacted but declined to comment.

Related article: United Airlines Warned Employees: ‘Avoid Breathing Airborne Asbestos Fibers’