Crane operator says employer retaliated against him for cashing settlement check

By Kasey Schefflin-Emrich | Jul 29, 2015

PITTSBURGH - An Irwin worker is suing an oilfield wire line services provider, alleging it terminated him after he engaged in protected employee activities.

Correy Jackson filed a lawsuit July 9 in U.S. District Court Western District of Pennsylvania against RWLS, which has a district office in Ruffsdale, alleging unlawful retaliation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

According to the complaint, Jackson worked for the defendant as a lead wire line hand and crane operator from November 2010 to September 2012. The filing states a lawsuit was brought against RWLS in October 2013, alleging it unlawfully withheld overtime compensation from wire line operators and crane operators.

Jackson was one of 81 individuals eligible to receive payment from the defendant in connection with the settlement. Thirty individuals who were still employed by the defendant excluded themselves from the settlement with many fearing retaliation, the lawsuit states.

The complaint says Jackson was rehired as a crane operator by the defendant in March 2015 after various meetings with the district manager at the defendant's Ruffsdale office in which Jackson was told that he would be paid $22 per hour plus overtime.

Shortly after he was rehired, Jackson alleges another manager told him not to cash the settlement checks he would receive in connection with the October 2013 lawsuit as he could possibly lose his job and that other employees pledged not to cash their settlements checks. When Jackson informed the manager that he intended to cash the settlement checks, the manager refused to talk with him, the suit says.

After Jackson deposited the checks, which was one of the largest sums distributed in connection with the settlement, the defendant stopped assigning larger projects to him and eventually terminated him in June, the suit says.

The plaintiff alleges RWLS intentionally and maliciously retaliated against him for participating in the settlement and depositing the checks received in connection with it. He says he endured severe emotional distress, decreased self-esteem, and lost wages and benefits.

Jackson seeks compensatory, liquidated and punitive damages, in addition to attorney fees, court costs and other relief deemed appropriate by the court. He is represented by attorney Joseph Chivers of The Employment Rights Group in Pittsburgh.

U.S. District Court Western District of Pennsylvania case number: 2:15-cv-00889-JFC.

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