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San Francisco contractor settles wrongful termination suit

What if you go to work every day and diligently do a good job, one that you enjoy, and no one ever tells you that the work you do involves invisible hazards that are toxic and may ultimately cause your death? What if you were wrongfully terminated after discovering you were exposed to such dangers in your workplace?

Just such a situation presented itself upon a man in San Francisco recently. He worked for a small contractor called Winning Colors removing paint from buildings that were built before 1978. Because lead was not banned from house paints until 1978, scraping paint off these buildings posed serious threats to his health.

Lead exposure has been linked to a gradual reduction in cognitive function and kidney and reproductive problems. The man was unaware of these threats and stated that no one within the company informed him of the dangers associated with performing his job requirements.

A state agency began investigating Winning Colors after medical results showed that the man had high levels of lead in his blood. The man was subsequently fired and sued the company for wrongful termination. The contractor and the terminated employee agreed on a settlement of $5,500.

Employees should always be informed of dangerous work conditions, and employers should always do everything in their power to ensure employees are kept as safe as possible on the job. If you feel that you were wrongfully terminated for your actions to protect yourself from workplace hazards, you have every right to pursue recourse.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, “Lead still a hazard, especially in construction work,” Stephanie M. Lee, Dec. 18, 2013

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