A former refinery technician in Texas is suing his former employer for wrongful dismissal, claiming he was fired for refusing to take his chemically contaminated uniform home to launder it.
Lorenzo Najera has also asked a Texas court to compel his former employer, Phelps Dodge Refining Corp., to stop ordering employees to take contaminated clothing home.
Najera’s lawsuit claims he was exposed to lead, arsenic and other hazardous materials on the job. He said he was fired several days after a supervisor told him he could not wash his uniform on the premises and would have to do so at home or at a laundromat. Najera refused to do so.
The day after that conversation, Najera wore street clothes to work and was told to go home because he was unfit for work. He lodged a complaint with the company’s human resources department but did not hear anything until he was fired a few days later.
An OSHA spokesman said employers must provide for laundering of clothing exposed to inorganic arsenic at levels of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air. They must also provide changing room and showers for employees to prevent the wearing of contaminated clothing outside the workplace.