On February 20, 2018, a former employee of MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility (YCF) filed a lawsuit claiming exposure to asbestos-containing materials. The plaintiff alleges that the facility’s management knowingly allowed staff (and young offenders assigned to the location) to be exposed to asbestos-containing materials while they worked on a project to upgrade campus cottages and buildings. The plaintiff, John N., advised the media that he was knowingly exposed while he spent close to a year and a half supervising a group of youth helping out on some MacLaren YCF remodeling.
The remodeling project was approved by Oregon State Legislature in 2015. The plaintiff was ordered to replace wallboard panels that had been removed in an in-process campus cottage in February 2017 by his supervisor, Mike B. Mike had discovered there was an unexpected tour of state officials. He is a named defendant in the case. He was heard by the plaintiff explaining that he didn’t want the officials to discover the asbestos-containing materials in the walls of Kincaid Cottage.
The plaintiff was alarmed by the information and was floored that management had not advised anyone of the situation. John alleges that after his supervisor made this confession to him and a painter on site, they were put on administrative leave. He was accused of assisting minors on site in concealing items that were not allowed at the facility while he supervised teams of youth working on the remodel.
John, the plaintiff, filed a complaint with Occupational and Safety Administration (OSHA) within the month. A fine was levied against Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) for dual violations of the Oregon Safe Employment Act. OSHA’s investigation also found negligence on the part of OYA in notifying employees about the presence of the asbestos-containing materials he, other workers and the youth crews were exposed to on site. The organization was also found non-compliant in providing necessary employee training regarding asbestos.
John N. was also fired only days after OYA was formally fined. As retaliating against an employee is also in violation of employment law, John is asking for damages amounting to $935,000.
If you have questions regarding an unsafe workplace or if you are experiencing retaliation in the workplace, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.