Portland, OR: (Jun-12-07) A class action employment lawsuit was filed against Del Monte Fresh Foods and Quality Manual Labor Inc., a temporary staffing firm, by eight ex-workers, who claimed that the two companies were guilty of violating state law by firing them for complaining about safety concerns and by withholding overtime pay, break periods, and safety gear. The case stemmed from a dispute that arose as the New Year's holiday neared, some workers posted signs around the plant inviting others to meet at their temporary employment firm, Quality Manual Labor Inc., to ask for the time off. They also brought up safety concerns, the workers claimed they used cloth gloves that often tore and plastic aprons got wet and dirty, but plant managers allegedly refused to replace them.
Hundreds of Portland based workers claimed that they had slipped and fallen on wet floors and labored in cold conditions. This led to eight filing complaints with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries alleging Quality Manual Labor violated state law by firing them for opposing a safety hazard. In September 2006, while waiting for the labor bureau to complete its investigation, a suit was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court against Del Monte, repeating allegations made against Quality Manual Labor.
In a settlement reached, Del Monte Fresh Foods agreed to pay $400,000 or $5,000 to each of the eight fired workers who alleged discrimination and will deposit $301,709 into a settlement fund for the class action claims. [OREGON LIVE: EMPLOYEE SAFETY]