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Lawsuit: Employee punished for raising concerns about asbestos

When it comes to dealing with asbestos in buildings and on the job, some employers would rather put their employees in danger rather than spend the time and money to have the asbestos removed safely. These negligent employers have put people at risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses for decades, and this dangerous practice continues today in North Carolina and all across the county.

One man was reportedly penalized by his employer for complaining that asbestos in an athletic center was putting people in danger. Instead of taking his complaints seriously and addressing the hazard, his superiors chose to punish the man for complaining. The man filed a lawsuit against his employer citing employment law violations, but this case also illustrates that these violations also put people's health and safety in danger.

According to his lawsuit, the man says that he was working as a police officer and the director of a police athletic center when he learned that asbestos was found in the building during a renovation project. He became aware that the contractor hired to perform the renovation was not certified in asbestos abatement and brought up these concerns to his supervisors. 

After filing his complaint, however, the man was reportedly harassed and disciplined for the first time in his career. The anxiety and stress that came with being the victim of these behaviors, not to mention his worsening asthma symptoms, forced the man to take a leave of absence. 

He filed a lawsuit to pursue compensation for the 271 days he had to take off in addition to his medical bills. A judge agreed with his arguments and ruled that he should be paid $75,000 for these expenses. 

While this was an employment law issue, it highlights the negligence and reckless behaviors that some employers exhibit when it comes to asbestos. Even though it is widely known that asbestos exposure can prove to be fatal, some companies would rather ignore their responsibility to deal with asbestos safely than to comply with state and federal laws to have it removed properly. 

Source: The Pennsylvania Record, "Phila. cop who won asbestos whistleblower case against city awarded $75K for lost work," Jon Campisi, March 17, 2014

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