Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The backbreaking work of the construction world isn’t for everybody. The hours are long and unpredictable, the clients can be demanding and the physical nature of the job is often dangerous and taxing. Underneath the piles of plywood and stacks of drywall, the construction industry hides a history of employee discrimination, wrongful termination and wage and hour disputes. With tougher nationwide labor laws being currently enforced, however, many construction businesses are under fire. Individual lawsuits have targeted the industry, blowing the whistle on unfair labor practices.
Micheal Robertson of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., worked as a construction foreman for Miron Construction for two years. Making $33 dollars an hour from 2007-2009, it was a pretty good gig. Miron is a reputable company in Wisconsin that worked on Wisconsin Public Service’s power plant in the small town of Weston. But things went sour for Robertson, he claims, when his supervisors asked him to falsify his time sheets. After he denied the request, Robertson says he was fired. He filed a wrongful termination suit earlier this month in Wisconsin Federal Court.
Robertson was called on to perform maintenance on one of the plant’s cooling towers that was in dire need of a de-icing after one of the region’s typically-brutal winters. Initially, he called in 20 workers for the project, but after more closely inspecting the state of the tower, he determined that fewer men were actually needed to get the job done. In his complaint, Robertson says that his supervisor, Steven Miller, said to go ahead and bill Wisconsin Public Service for labor previously predicted. When Robertson flatly refused, Miller threatened him and told him he could lose his job for not falsifying the time sheets. Miller went ahead and filed the false time sheets himself and Robertson was fired for taking company property home. When Robertson contested this charge, stating his job required him to take some equipment home, Miller told him he was actually being fired for not getting along with co-workers. Robertson struck back and filed a complaint with his labor union.
Robertson’s lawsuit against Miron Construction is seeking unspecified punitive damages for wrongful termination.