Employers working in a metal warehouse here with no air conditioning filed a complaint last week against their employer with the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for what they say are extremely hot working conditions.
At XPO Logistics’ Verizon warehouse here, workers claim to have experienced “instances of extreme heat leading to dizziness, dehydration, and fainting,” according to the complaint. During a recent three-day period, the heat index near the warehouse exceeded OSHA’s “extreme caution” threshold during the majority of working hours, workers said.
Lakeisha Nelson, one of the employees, said she’s suffered from heat stress multiple times during her four years working at the warehouse. The first incident occurred in 2015 when Nelson allegedly fainted due to dehydration. Two years later, Nelson said she had to be rushed to the hospital for severe muscle cramps caused by dehydration. Most recently, Nelson said dizziness and nausea forced her to stop working.
“The working conditions at XPO are terrifying and making us sick,” Nelson said. “Think back to the hottest day this summer and what it felt like to be outside. Now crank it up 20 degrees and think of yourself doing back-breaking work with little ventilation, no fresh air, and no relief for hours and hours.
“Instead of offering electrolyte popsicles and half-hearted warnings about heat, the company should commit to providing breaks that don’t impact our production quotas, water, and medical attention so we’re not at risk of fainting during the average workday.”
On another occasion, an employee suffering from heat illness was allegedly penalized for visiting a doctor during work hours.
The claims are under investigation by OSHA, who could issue citations or financial penalties for the company's violations of standards or regulations.
This comes after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed complaints on behalf of two female employees at XPO’s Disney warehouse here in June. One of the women claimed her supervisor made sexual passes at her, and on one occasion tried to kiss her. The other woman alleges that female employees were often pushed around by a general manager, who went unpunished.
This year alone, women at XPO’s three warehouses in Memphis have had a total of 12 complaints filed on their behalf by the EEOC. Complaints include reports of supervisers groping, grabbing, and making sexual comments.
XPO Logistics, a $15 billion company, packages and distributes products for major brands, such as, Verison, Nike, Disney, and Home Depot.