Attorney: Mayfield candle factory retaliated against workers who cooperated in OSHA investigation

Posted at 11:27 AM, Nov 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-05 21:31:24-05

(LEX 18) — Employees at the candle factory hit by a tornado in Mayfield nearly a year ago claim their employer has retaliated against them for cooperating with an OSHA investigation. An attorney has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

Nine people were killed at the Mayfield Consumer Products factory when the EF-4 tornado hit on December 10, 2021. An Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation after the factory was destroyed found seven violations including some related to emergency action plans and operational features for exit routes. The company was fined $40,000.

In the aftermath, several workers filed a lawsuit claiming they were told they couldn't leave the factory in the hours leading up to the tornado. Today, Amos Jones, the same attorney who filed the original lawsuit, filed an NLRB complaint on behalf of 20 employees. He says the company asked the employees not to speak with OSHA investigators and says the company has retaliated against them for cooperating with that investigation.

"That's when we saw a lot of kick-off of persons who were not represented yet, directly, by us and so people came forward to allege that they believe that, because of the fines and their having spoken up, in violation of what two persons just yesterday reported were warnings in the hours after the tornado, written warnings, electronically, at least, from Mayfield Consumer Products, advising them no, do not speak to the OSHA investigators," Jones said.

Jones said the company has denied or obstructed their workers' compensation benefits. He said some of the workers are being called by bill collectors for payment of medical bills from the tornado that the company's insurance hasn't paid.

"It's an estimated, roughly, half-a-million dollars or more that appears to be the amount of liability for medical bills that people are facing. We're still calculating numbers, as people come in and we do our best to get hold of records, but it's a significant sum of money already in collections for these victims, who have post-traumatic stress disorder and other horrible maladies," Jones said.

That initial lawsuit is still working its way through the courts.