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.