A California man claims that he was simply looking out for his safety, and the safety of others, by calling attention to potentially hazardous amounts of asbestos at his workplace.
However, raising awareness of the problem and suggesting that it be dealt with rubbed his superiors the wrong way, prompting them to let him go, according to the man's recent wrongful termination lawsuit.
The man filed the lawsuit against national storage and hauling company U-Haul. The man worked at U-Haul's facility in Bayview, California, which is one of the largest facilities in the chain standing at six stories tall. He had only been employed for eight months before he claims he was fired for complaining about dangerous conditions at the facility.
According to the lawsuit, a janitor that worked at the facility initially spotted the asbestos wrapped around pipes as insulation in a cleaning supply room. When he brought it to the attention of his superiors, he was terminated. The man who filed the suit, an assistant manager at the facility, picked up the case and attempted to address the issue with his boss several times. His boss acknowledged that there was asbestos but failed to take care of the problem.
Shortly after raising concerns to his boss, the assistant manager at the Bayview facility was let go.
The California man is now worried that U-Haul's resistance to addressing the asbestos problem could be hazardous to customers who use the facility and for those who work there. He also believes that there are other employees at U-Haul who know about the problem but are unwilling to speak up about the issue for fear of losing their jobs.
The fired employee is seeking lost wages and punitive damages. He hopes that the lawsuit will remind all employers that they have a responsibility to respect the rights of employees and to offer a safe working environment for all. "If you fire people for complaining about an unsafe environment, then you're gonna feel it," he warned.
Source: KTVU.com, "Man says U-Haul fired him after finding asbestos," Oct. 15, 2011