NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – “There are so many germs in there it’s hard to describe,” says David Nibbelin who has worked at a freight company in Irving for nearly 30 years. “You’d think that virus would have started in the break room.”
Nibbelin sent the CBS 11 I-Team video and pictures of what he describes as dirty bathrooms, leaking urinals and break room tables which he says prevents anyone from social distancing during this unprecedented pandemic.
“It’s filthy here. The restrooms are terrible. The break rooms are terrible and they’re not spacing us six feet apart. We’re elbow to elbow.”
The freight company sent CBS 11 a statement saying, “the health and safety of our employees is… first priority. And a Covid-19 response team communicates daily with all field offices.”
But the I-Team is hearing similar safety concerns from many other employees at workplaces across North Texas.
At a call center in Dallas, a viewer writes, “80 employees are working at the same time.”
At a warehouse in Terrell, a viewer says, “close… interactions of their employees put not only them, but entire families… at risk.”
And at an office building in Las Colinas, a North Texan says, “more than 50 people…are not working six feet apart.”
The I-Team discussed the emails with University of North Texas at Dallas Law Professor Mike Maslanka.
“Step up to the plate and do the right thing by your employees, period,” says Maslanka.
Maslanka says a concerned employee’s first step should be talking to your manager, human resources or the president of your company. You can do it in person or in writing. Maslanka says don’t try to “sound smart,” just speak directly and “from the heart.”
If nothing changes, Maslanka says you should take the next step.
“If they are not safe distancing or if sanitation like Purell is not being provided, the employee needs to go to the Department of Labor,” he says
Report the violations to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at the Department of Labor office in Dallas. You can do this through a call or online. You can be anonymous.
During the investigation, your employer may figure out you did this. You can file a whistleblower complaint within 30 days of any adverse employment action.
If your employer retaliates, you can then file a charge of discrimination with the National Labor Relations Board which is in Fort Worth.
Maslanka says employees who get sick with the virus through work can file for workers compensation.
But Maslanka says if your company put you in danger and the company did not react, you may need to hire a personal injury lawyer who can file a claim in state district court.
“If they put you in harms way maliciously, then they’re liable. They’re liable,” says Maslanka.
David Nibbelin says he tried contacting his company. He has now filed a complaint with OSHA.
“I don’t plan on suing anyone, but this company makes a lot of money and they should be able to provide us with clean break rooms and bathrooms,” says Nibbelin.