Several workers at a California warehouse were recently suspended from their jobs. The workers claim that the company used their five minute break to get out of the heat as an excuse to suspend them. They say the real reason they were suspended was because they made complaints to the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration back in May regarding the fact they are at risk for workplace injuries.
Olivet International supplies stores such as Walmart, Big Lots and Saks Fifth Avenue with clothing, handbags and luggage. The warehouse where the workers were suspended from is owned and operated by Olivet International. Workers allege in their complaints that they are not provided with cool water as they work in the hot warehouse. In addition, they claim that fire exits are blocked, vehicles are constantly speeding through the area and stacks of boxes are at risk of collapsing.
OSHA began an investigation in response to the complaint filed by workers. The warehouse has already been inspected, and the investigators are scheduled to release their report in November. In the meantime, workers claim that the company installed cameras and brought in consultants that reportedly told workers not to talk about their working conditions with anyone.
Every California business has the responsibility to provide its employees with a safe work environment. As part of that responsibility, employers are required to do what they can to avoid workplace injuries. Employees that believe they are not being provided a safe work environment should feel they have the freedom to bring the problem to the attention of their employer. Additionally, they should feel free to take their complaints outside the company if the employer fails to satisfactorily deal with the complaints.
Source: Huffington Post, Walmart Supplier Warehouse Workers Fired For Taking 5-Minute Break, They Say, Kathleen Miles, Aug. 22, 2013