San Juan, Puerto Rico
When a heavy thunderstorm hit one March afternoon, 13 workers building the foundation of a luxury hotel retreated to a trailer to wait out the downpour. Supervisors ordered them back to work, but the workers refused, citing health and safety concerns, and were fired on the spot. After the regional NLRB office found sufficient evidence to call for a hearing, the contractor settled with the workers by offering backpay and reinstatement.
While in the trailer, the workers told supervisors at Morris Shea Inc. that there were exposed electrical cables at the job site and said they feared they would be electrocuted in the rain. The supervisors became angry and demanded that each worker sign a discharge letter, yelling racial slurs and belittling the workers. The employees knew their rights and went straight to the regional NLRB office in San Juan to file charges. Following an investigation, the regional director issued complaint alleging the contractor, Morris Shea, Inc., interfered with the workers‘ rights to engage in concerted activity to help each other on the job.
The employer paid more than $50,000 in back wages and offered to reinstate all 13 discharged employees. Four of the workers accepted the offer and returned. Morris Shea also agreed to post notices at all of its construction sites informing employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.