The U.S. Department of Labor is suing a local roofing company after an employee assisted the Occupational Safety and Health organization during an investigation, a lawsuit filed Dec. 28 shows.
The lawsuit is asking for monetary damages suffered by the employee and for injunctive relief - that is, reassurance from the company they'll never terminate an employee for the same reason again.
Jasper Roofing Contractors Inc. was cited several times for OSHA violations in 2014 for failing to properly protect their workers, both in Tampa and Jacksonville.
Wedding hired Martin Keller on after OSHA found four violations with the company. Jasper Roofing failed to make their workers wear fall protection while they were on a rooftop, failed to make their employees wear hard hats or safety goggles when they were necessary and also for incorrectly placing ladders on houses.
Keller was brought on in November 2014 as the company's safety manager. He worked for four months before Wedding fired him, spurring the lawsuit.
In his four months with the roofing company, Keller alerted the company's higher ups to violations he saw multiple times. A month after hiring Keller, the company was cited $70,000 because its employees weren't wearing proper fall protection.
After settling the citations, Jasper Roofing ended up paying $163,000 in fines for their many violations.
During an OSHA inspection at a Jacksonville work site in March, Keller was called to the scene by the company's management. He interrupted the workers while they were on a roof for an interview with the inspector.
The lawsuit claims Jasper Roofing management was unhappy Keller allowed the employees to be interviewed without a subpoena. Two weeks later, Keller was fired.
At that point, he filed an OSHA complaint claiming wrongful termination.
The Labor department is suing for lost wages, punitive damages and over emotional distress.
Jasper Roofing has offices all over the state, including Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, Kissimmee and Jacksonville.