A Michigan lawsuit was recentely settled for $250,000 in the case of a former employee of the Genesee County Community Action Recourse Department (GCCARD). In 2009, Ray Barker II had been working at GCCARD for six months when he was let go. Barker’s suit claimed his firing was because he repeatedly alerted his bosses that there were potential asbestos dangers with the work he and other employees were performing.
The work crew was using federal grant money to pump insulation into around 75 low-income homes as part of a weatherization effort. Barker informed his superiors that the equipment they were using was powerful enough that it could create clouds of dust containing asbestos fibers. Asbestos fibers, when inhaled, can become embedded in one’s lungs and can potentially result in health problems like mesothelioma and asbestosis. Barker noted that the workers were encountering vermiculite, a mineral that can contain asbestos and was used in millions of homes before the mid-1990s. According to Michigan’s OSHA regulations, any material suspected of containing more than 1% asbestos should be tested, and subsequently handled properly.
While the company continues to insist that Barker’s firing was unrelated to his alerting superiors over asbestos concerns, Barkers feels they settled the case because they know they were wrong.
Have you or a loved one been exposed to asbestos? An asbestos attorney may be able to help.