A Staten Island, NY, community health center and its CEO are being sued by the U.S. Department of Labor after an employee was allegedly suspended and later fired for reporting COVID-19-related safety and health concerns.
The employee was allegedly disciplined and eventually terminated after expressing concerns over staff being exposed to the coronavirus and a lack of proper social distancing protocols.
Community Health Center of Richmond, Inc., and its CEO, Henry Thompson, are accused of firing the “six-year veteran employee” shortly after the employee reported COVID-19 hazards to Thompson, according to a DOL news release.
The employee was concerned that in-person attendance at a March 2020 staff meeting would lead to transmission of the coronavirus, so the worker attempted to reschedule the meeting by phone.
After the scheduling change was turned down by management, the employee refused to attend the meeting in person and was allegedly then suspended and eventually terminated.
The employee then filed an anti-retaliation complaint with OSHA, leading to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit asks the court to order the employer to:
- pay the employee damages, plus interest, for all past and future lost wages and benefits resulting from the termination
- pay appropriate front pay in lieu of reinstatement
- reimburse the employee for costs and expenses
- pay compensatory damages, including compensation for emotional pain and distress and exemplary or punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial
- expunge records of the termination from personnel and company records, and
- post a notice for employees stating the company will not discriminate against any employee for engaging in protected activities.