Employee Fired for Calling 911

A West Virginia employee was fired back in 2014, and now the U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against her former company.

During an incident in July 2014, another employee at Lone Start Western Beef suffered a severed thumb in a workplace accident.  A co-worker attempted to call 911 before the company’s owner, John M. Bachman, ordered her to hang up the phone and drive the injured worker to the nearby urgent clinic.  The worker was eventually taken to a hospital where doctors were not able to re-attach the body part.  Meanwhile, the worker who tried to call 911 after the incident was fired two days later.

OSHA investigators say the co-worker discussed the incident with a Department of Agriculture inspector.  OSHA’s regional administrator in Philadephia reported Lone Star Western Beef punished the employee for trying to get medical care for a seriously injured co-worker.  Her efforts were protected under Section 11(c) and showed basic human decency.  The administrator continued by saying, “No worker should have to fear retaliation from their employer for calling 911 in an emergency, or taking other action to report a workplace safety or health incident.”

The case has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. The lawsuit seeks back wages and punitive damages for the terminated employee.