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Lawsuit Filed Alleging California State University Students at 21 Campuses Exposed to Harmful Carcinogens in Wrongful Termination Suit

By April 10, 2019 No Comments

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The law offices of Rosen Saba, LLP and Collier Law Firm, LLP have been granted permission to proceed forward with a lawsuit brought by Joseph Shepler against the California State University system for health and safety code violations at 21 CSU campuses.

Mr. Shepler initially filed a lawsuit after being terminated from his position as the statewide Manager of Environmental Safety and Health. This high-level supervisorial position required Mr. Shepler to educate, train, and ensure appropriate safety practices are followed by CSU and its employees statewide. During his tenure, Mr. Shepler uncovered numerous health and safety violations at the CSU campus, reported them to the CSU-system leadership, and attempted to take proactive steps to remedy the issues. Ultimately, Mr. Shepler was retaliated against and terminated for doing his job and discovering and working to correct the violations.

After his termination, Mr. Shepler informed the State of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) of the health and safety violations he discovered during his employment. These violations included, among other things, exposing CSU students, faculty, and visitors to asbestos, lead, mercury, and other hazardous materials. Mr. Shepler also discovered violations regarding the improper storage of chemicals in on-campus laboratories and the failure of CSU to adequately perform fire inspections.

“It is absolutely ridiculous instead of protecting the health and safety of CSU students, that after CSU leadership learned of these egregious health and safety violations, the reaction was to fire Mr. Shepler and then cover-up his findings,” said Ryan D. Saba of Rosen Saba, LLP.

This not the first time that CSU has been faced with a claim that a building had asbestos. In Sargent v. Board of Trustees (Sonoma County Superior Court, case number SCV255399), a case that went to trial in March, 2017, a jury found CSU liable for similar violations at the Sonoma campus. “We are shocked that after a jury found over 15,000 health and safety violations at the Sonoma campus, and the jury found that CSU retaliated against the whistleblower, CSU has not learned its lesson and continues with their same despicable course of conduct”” said Dustin Colllier of the Collier Law Firm, LLP.

The lawsuit is titled Joseph Shepler v. Board of Trustees of the California State University (Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. BC705095). The plaintiff is seeking economic and non-economic damages and attorney’s fees as result of his wrongful termination. The plaintiff is also seeking to recover penalties on behalf of the State of California for the health and safety violations at issue.

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