A jury has awarded two men a total of $332,000 in connection with their firings from their jobs. They had complained about the lack of bathroom facilities, and OSHA got involved.
Douglas Eki and Xerxes Doctolero did mechanical work at Portland (OR) International Airport for Menzies Aviation.
In Sept. 2009, Menzies moved its maintenance workshop. Doctolero said he constantly complained the company needed to provide a portable toilet at the new location.
Menzies said the men had permission to use the toilets at Horizon Airlines. The men said they used the facilities there a couple of times but stopped after it was clear they weren’t welcome there. The workers’ attorney said Horizon employees probably were leery of allowing the men into their facility because of post Sept. 11 precautions and because the men were strangers to them.
The two men testified that they had to urinate in a bucket and there were occasions they soiled their clothing because they couldn’t make it to a toilet fast enough.
Menzies said the men were fired because they had disobeyed orders to no longer urinate in a bucket.
Eki complained to the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division which sent an inspector. Oregon OSHA cited the company for failing to provide restroom facilities. Then men were fired less than a month later.
The jury found Menzies retaliated against the men for calling OSHA.
The jury awarded Doctolero $77,000 and Eki $15,000 in lost wages and benefits; $30,000 to each man for pain and suffering; and $90,000 each for punitive damages. Under Oregon law, 60% of the punitive damages will go to the state’s crime victims compensation fund.
It seems like this situation could have been settled before the firings and the resulting lawsuit. How would you have handled this situation? What should the employer and/or employees done differently? Let us know what you think in the comments below.