Business Attorney
Written by Edward Lai

Employee Fired after Calling Emergency Services

The owner of a now closed beef jerky business is  being sued by the federal government after firing an employee who called 911 after a co-worker severed his thumb.

The owner of Lone Star Western Beef Plant in Fairmont West Virginia, John M. Bachman could face serious charges after the result of a lawsuit the US Labor Department filed against him and his company.

The lawsuit stems from a 2014 incident which saw one of his employees, Chris Crane, had his thumb severed by a band saw while working. During the accident one Crane’s co-workers, Michelle Butler-Savage, tried to call 911 in efforts to help Crane.

However, before medical responders could answer the call Butler-Savage was forced to hang up and Crane was ultimately taken to an urgent care clinic where attempts to reattach his thumb were unsuccessful. It is unknown at the time if Crane’s thumb could have been saved if they were to have medical responders take him the hospital right after the accident occurred.

However, the lawsuit stems from the fact that Butler-Savage was fired two days after the accident for nothing more than calling 911.

After her dismissal Butler-Savage filed a formal complaint against Lone Star Western Beef Plant and Bachman to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), stating that company violated federal whistle blower laws. The OSHA administrator Richard Medelson stated that actions taking by Butler-Savage show “basic human decency” and were protected by federal law.

According to Medelson no worker in any workplace should fear retaliation from their employer for calling 911 in any type of emergency or to take action when safety in the work place is concerned. Medelson has stated that the lawsuit filed against Bachman and his company will be seeking back wages for Butler-Savage and Clark as well as punitive damages suffered by the employees involved.

Bachman was not readily available to give a comment on the situation and Lone Star Western Beef Plant has closed its operations in Fairmont and has since relocated to Reading, PA.

Situations like this can be tough for all involved as Employment Laws are not always clear. If you or someone you know is about to be involved in an employment lawsuit then the law offices of Edward Lai Law are willing to help.

For a consultation feel free to contact the offices of Edward Lai Law at 510-397-8287.

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