STANDING UP FOR COVID-19 WORKPLACE SAFETY WHISTLEBLOWERS

STANDING UP FOR COVID-19 WORKPLACE SAFETY WHISTLEBLOWERS

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Azanean Petty was forced to choose between her safety and her job at the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility when her employer denied her request to wear a protective mask while working in an environment with insufficient sanitation measures and inadequate social distancing. Ms. Petty was forced to hand in her resignation after she spoke up about safety concerns and refused to work without a mask for the protection of herself, the juvenile detainees, and the other employees in the facility.

Her attorney Angela Walker filed the Whistleblower Lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court.  “Although the facility had apparently received N-95 masks for their employees, they told my client she was not allowed to wear it inside where the inmates are housed or in places where she worked in close proximity to others and social distancing could not be maintained,” Walker said.

Ms. Petty went live on Facebook immediately after submitting her resignation on April 6th, and the video went viral within hours, with over 68,000 views and 3,800 shares.

https://www.facebook.com/azanean.petty/videos/1141642706168433/

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, she had already spoken up on numerous occasions about inadequate sanitation practices at the facility.  Ms. Petty alleges that she and other employees were threatened with discipline if they continued to bring in soap and other cleaning supplies from home, something they had been doing to try to make up for the lack of supplies at the facility.  The facility failed to provide a sufficient supply of basic cleaning and hygiene materials even after Governor Whitmer declared a state of emergency due to the pandemic.

In addition to the lawsuit filed today, Ms. Petty has also submitted a complaint to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) so the state may take action to address the ongoing problems at the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility.

COVID-19 NOTICE: Blanchard & Walker remains open remotely, answering calls and providing advice helping Michigan workers through this COVID-19 state of emergency. As we do so, we are especially mindful of the risks and safety concerns faced by our healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential employees.  Click to learn more and find resources