A lawsuit filed by a former Roseburg Forest Products employee in Douglas County Circuit Court accuses the company of unlawful employment practices at its plywood plant in Coquille.

Nora Edera, who filed the claim March 20 through Crispin Employment Law in Portland, is seeking $850,000 for personal and economic damages.

According to the lawsuit, Edera worked at the plant from 2003 to October 2018 in multiple departments. According to her claim, she was involuntarily terminated Oct. 24, 2018, as retaliation for bringing complaints to the Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Administration, Carpenters Industrial Council local union and Bureau of Labor and Industries regarding an alleged unsafe work environment.

Edera could not be reached for comment.

A spokesperson for Roseburg Forest Products denied the allegations.

“Roseburg has reviewed Ms. Edera’s complaint, and her allegations against the company and the named defendants are baseless and without merit,” company spokeswoman Rebecca Taylor said in an email. “Roseburg places a very high priority on employee safety, and our overall record reflects that commitment. We solicit and value employee feedback about working conditions and other workplace issues. We thoroughly investigate concerns of this nature and take corrective steps when appropriate. Our employees are our most valuable asset, and their health and wellbeing is of the utmost importance to us.”

Edera’s complaints started after a three-day cleanup of two plants in 2016.

“Upon information and belief, during the cleanup, plaintiff and others were exposed to hazardous chemicals and excessive sand dust. (The company) failed to provide protective clothing or require facial masks. Following the cleanup, plaintiff began experiencing severe breathing problems and nausea,” the claim reads.

Along with not providing protection for the employees, Edera said several spaces lacked adequate ventilation and caused respiratory problems for her and other employees. According to the claim, the company added equipment but not ventilation or dust-removal equipment, which made Edera’s situation worse. After the complaints and an investigation from the health and safety administration, Edera claims she was intentionally assigned to work with machinery that made her respiratory conditions worse and certain employees “excessively ran machinery” around her.

According to the lawsuit, she was fired after a random footwear audit in October when she was wearing doctor-approved shoes for which she had submitted documentation with the company.

“(The company) was provided with a doctor’s note on June 17, 2014, and allowed plaintiff to wear the special shoes as a reasonable accommodation. She wore the same shoes for several years without issue.”

Her supervisor told her to leave and followed her to collect her things. After she was sent home, a representative from the company’s human resources department called to tell her she was suspended. She was terminated on Oct. 18.

Janelle Polcyn can be reached at jpolcyn@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow her on Twitter @JanellePolcyn.

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Janelle Polcyn is a reporter at The News-Review, graduated from the University of Texas, and is a podcast enthusiast.

(3) comments

codtpage

Worked at plant 4 as well. Supervisor I was under told us in a meeting about fire safety. That he should have done more to put the fire out. All while he was on a elevator with burning hydraulic fluid around him.

RascalTatts

Why does this not surprise me? I’m a 20+ year RFP employee who has come home with the black gunk of sawdust and other things in my nose every day, and wearing home whatever mold is on the wood that come in all colors of black, green, orange, and the white fuzz that grows on it. Your option- Oh and here’s your paper-thin mask you can actually breath the dust through, oh and air filtration- that’s the system with duct tape on it or we have neglected to fix. The fact is that RFP doesn’t care about our health or the 15 year ex-employee in the article. It’s about production and making a product that’s cheaper for the company, and has dropped in quality since the 90’s. Rebecca Taylor’s comment “baseless and without merit” isn’t true, and RFP management can try to deny it away all you want, but her office isn’t in the plants. The employees speak up, but are not heard, “Safety Meetings” are a joke, and most employees like me can’t push the issue because I put my health up against my livelihood. Which isn’t fair. I have watched a handful of good employees with multiple years under their belts be gunned for by management and lose their jobs this year alone and it seems the people with the most years are being target more and more . We’re becoming a liability because we have built good retirements, and we rely heavily on the insurance that’s provide for some our health issues *which are work related. “Random shoe audits” are a joke too, and all depends on who you are and who your foreman is (like a hunting buddy). Sounds like she had the note needed and was in the right with what we have all been told in the same type of case. I just hope she kept the original note from her doctor as things have a way of disappearing. I had to provide a note 3 times to my foreman for my medical issue. I appreciate my job I have had for this many years, but I know the cost my body and health has paid. People would say leave and why stay? Take a look at where these plants are located, I don’t see a huge number of opportunities or opportunities for people at my age. There is a silent majority supporting this and want a healthy, safe place to work. RFP- Start really listening to the employees. The world has changed and this type of treatment of people isn’t OK anymore.

sectorstar

I had worked at the Riddle plant for 4 weeks as a temp summer job when they did their annual hiring. Worst job I ever had and couldn't get out of there any sooner!

I worked in the maintenance area, the "parking" lot in front of it where the employees in that dept parked was just a gravel pad basically and didn't seem to be big enough to hold all the cars of people that worked there. Myself and the 2 other people working there for the summer job were told after 3 days that we could no longer park there and instead had to park in the general area.....which was probably the equivalent of if you worked at wal-mart and had to park near red robin and walk all the way. The other 2 people car pooled so I'm not sure if 2 cars not being able to park there would have really made a difference.....but it was annoying as now I had to leave my house earlier to accommodate the extra time it was going to take me to walk from the parking lot to the building!

The people and the environment was absolutely awful to work in! I don't know how most of the women can stand working there when every 5 mins I saw a male employee engaged in some form of sexual harassment towards them. Most of depts would probably have their entire staff terminated on site if this was done at my job now. My supervisor would frequently whistle inappropriately when he walked past a younger female employee. One time when we were eating lunch a younger 20 something year old employee walked past the window outside and my supervisor make a remark to another employee about how "isn't that the one that got me two days off?" implying that he probably did or said something inappropriate and got in trouble for it.

Often times I found myself frequently getting yelled or cussed at for not doing something right, but was never actually told or instructed how to do the job in the first place, or was never given the run down of the do's and don'ts with things. After two weeks of it I finally pulled my supervisor to the side and told him that things were going to change or I was walking out the door right now. I had put in my 2 weeks already as I had gotten hired for my now current permanent job, and had nothing to loose by doing so. It got slightly better after that, but I couldn't had got out of that place any faster.

Its interesting how they supposedly didn't provide the safety equipment according to the complaint of the person in the article. Granted this was back in 2010 so maybe things have gone further downhill, but I was provided with all the stuff I would have needed, gloves, hard hat, ear plugs, etc. Though the weird thing was while others had safety goggles I was told that my prescription eye glasses would work as safety goggles and thus didn't need them. I have never heard of eye glasses being "ok" in terms of a substitute for safety goggles and even I at the time didn't think that was safe or appropriate.

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