Former Foster Farms Employee Claims he was Fired for Alleging Unsafe Workplace

A lawsuit alleging that Foster Farms fired an employee because he claimed that unsafe working conditions, specifically the presence of peroxide vapors, caused him to have a heart attack was removed from the Oregon Circuit Court to the federal Oregon District Court on Friday by Foster Farms. 

The defendant said in its Notice of Removal that the district court has original jurisdiction because the dispute includes parties from different states, as the defendant is not an Oregon citizen, and meets the required monetary value in controversy to be heard by the District of Oregon. 

Reportedly, the plaintiff worked for the defendant from July 2018 until August 2020, when he was fired. The plaintiff said in the initial complaint, filed in early November, that his doctors attributed a heart attack he had in May 2020 in part to exposure to peroxide vapors while working at Foster Farms. The plaintiff was hospitalized for three days and was away from work for more than two months. 

The plaintiff explained that he had informed the defendant that he believed the peroxide fumes he was exposed to at work were a cause of his heart attack, and that he was discriminated against because of this disability or perceived disability after returning to work. He purported that Foster Farms did not attempt to find an accomodation for him, fired him because of his disability, and “acted with malice and/or demonstrated a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and acted with a conscious indifference to the health, safety and welfare of Plaintiff.”

Additionally the plaintiff cited that he was denied the necessary paperwork to file a worker’s compensation claim for his purported “on-the-job” injury to his heart and lungs. The plaintiff also said that he took pictures of the amount of peroxide he was exposed to after he went back to work, and provided the picture to his manager; he alleged that this led to his firing and that he was “terminated in substantial part for opposing what he believed in good faith were unsafe working conditions.” 

The plaintiff is seeking damages of up to $100,000 and cited claims of relief for disability discrimination, worker’s compensation discrimination, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration discrimination. The plaintiff is represented by Scott N. Hunt and Foster Farms is represented by Seyfarth Shaw