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Liberty roofers named in suit

WARREN — A Youngstown man has filed a civil action against a Liberty roofing company and a supervisor for wrongful termination and also accused the firm of discrimination and lacking in safety practices.

The Trumbull County Common Pleas Court lawsuit filed on behalf of Andre Davis of 443 Aurora Drive, names as defendants TEMA Roofing Services LLC of Motor Inn Drive in Liberty and superintendent David Pugh.

The suit originally was filed in December and was transferred from Mahoning County Common Pleas Court last week. It has been assigned to Judge Peter J. Kontos.

The suit also charges the company with discrimination against the African-American former employee. The company also was accused of not giving Davis the proper progressive disciplinary steps before his firing on Sept. 12, 2019.

The facts of the case show that Davis was hired by TEMA in August 2008 through Roofers Local No. 71. Davis was a roofing third-year apprentice and Pugh was Davis’ superintendent and field manager.

The lawsuit names two instances where Davis claims the company was at fault. The first occurred around Aug. 15, 2019, when Davis was on the team working a roofing project at the Franklin YMCA, which was supervised by foreman David Klink. Davis was the only African-American on the team, the lawsuit noted, and the project involved the removal of hazardous materials, including asbestos.

The asbestos abatement team was dismissed from the Franklin job site before asbestos removal was completed. On Sept. 6, 2019, Klink ordered Davis to clean up a large uncontained pile of asbestos on the ground near dumpsters, using only his hands and a shovel.

When Davis reminded Klink about an agreement stating neither Davis nor his crew were to be handling asbestos because of health and safety reasons, according to the lawsuit, the foreman dismissed the objections and ordered Davis to complete the task.

Davis and another unnamed union operator agreed the removal could be handled more safely by using a forklift. After Davis completed the task using a forklift, Klink reprimanded Davis for not following directions.

A second incident took place Sept. 9, 2019, when Davis was working at a Rootstown Elementary School. Again, the suit claims Davis was the only African-American on the TEMA crew in Rootstown.

When the team arrived on the Rootstown job site, they complained about dust and other hazardous work conditions, asking they be provided with PPE.

Pugh delivered the PPE to the job site, but when Davis asked the safety monitor for the item, he was refused with an “insulting comment.”

Three days later as the Rootstown project was scheduled to end, the lawsuit states a usual job briefing was not held that morning. Because of this, Davis took it upon himself to start discarding materials from the roof. When the safety monitor observed Davis doing this, the lawsuit states he started screaming at Davis.

Later, the monitor again yelled at Davis because of the way he was dropping the insulation off the roof in an “unsafe” manner, the lawsuit states. When Davis started dropping tools from the roof to a clear area below, the lawsuit states, the foreman continued yelling at Davis, telling him to hand the tool to a coworker below.

After this was done, the foreman said he had had it with Davis and was calling Pugh to report him for alleged insubordination. At the end of the work day, Pugh fired Davis for alleged insubordination and violation of safety rules.

The firing action, the lawsuit claims, was taken without giving the employee an interview or written or verbal reprimands or a final written warning.

The lawsuit is seeking $25,000 against each defendant for the two claims of wrongful firing and discrimination. It also wants a punitive award against each defendant for $25,000.

The company’s website states TEMA Roofing Services is a family-owned company, spanning three generations and a 50-year history. Attempts to contact ownership or Pugh have been unsuccessful.

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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