Press Release: October 24, 2012
Contact: Sally Dworak-Fisher or Alexandra Rosenblatt at 410-625-9409
Silver Spring, MD – The Public Justice Center has filed suit on behalf of employees of Bethesda-based staffing agency WMS Solutions, LLC to recover the wages that the company illegally withheld to pay for asbestos workers’ training, health, and equipment costs, and to recover the out-of-pocket funds that employees paid for their own trainings, equipment and/or medical exams. The plaintiffs are also demanding WMS pay its employees for their work attending mandatory trainings and to compensate them at overtime rates when they work more than forty hours in a week. At the time of filing, 36 WMS workers had already filed notices to join the lawsuit, and many more are expected.
WMS Solutions, LLC provides temporary workers to construction contractors working in the asbestos, lead, and mold abatement industries. By unlawfully passing along to the workers a significant portion of the enormous costs associated with high employee turnover in these industries, WMS is able to enjoy an illegal competitive advantage over firms that abide by the law while workers foot the bill.
“This suit alleges that WMS has unlawfully failed to pay its workers for all work they have performed, and that they have unlawfully required workers to pay for their own health and safety-related costs,” said Public Justice Center Attorney Sally Dworak-Fisher.
Former WMS asbestos workers had to pay for his asbestos abatement training and safety equipment out of his own pocket, despite the fact that the law requires the company to provide both free of charge.
“I have been forced to pay hundreds of dollars just to make sure I don’t get sick from my work,” said Marvin Blandon, WMS worker, adding that WMS has forced him to pay for his own medical exams, protective equipment, and training, deducting some costs directly from his paycheck.
Employers are required by law to provide asbestos workers with protective clothing and equipment as well as mandatory training courses and physical examinations, at no charge to their employees. The complaint alleges that WMS has cheated workers by making them pay for their own gear, training, and exams. The suit also contends that mandatory trainings constitute “work” for which the employees must be compensated. If successful, the class action lawsuit will stop WMS from skimming from workers’ wages, as alleged in the complaint, and set precedents that will improve working conditions for asbestos workers industry-wide. Murphy Anderson PLLC is co-counsel with the Public Justice Center on this case.
Reporters who would like further information should contact Alexandra Rosenblatt or Sally Dworak-Fisher the Public Justice Center at 410-625-9409.