Worker Fired for Complaining About Asbestos Exposure at Hospital on Staten Island

According to a former worker of Richmond University Medical Center on Staten Island, the hospital was more concerned about the bottom line than its workers’ health after he was allegedly fired for complaining about asbestos exposure.

James Pepe, 33, says supervisors and hospital officials repeatedly denied his requests for protective great, claiming it would “cost too much money” to prevent asbestos exposure. Pepe allegedly found asbestos in the plumbing shop and on pipes in various areas of the building.

Pepe was fired in December after blowing the whistle to OSHA, claims the lawsuit.

“Defendants ultimately terminated plaintiff Pepe’s employment solely because he complained that defendants were in violation of federal health and safety laws by ordering employees, including … Pepe, to work in enclosed spaces with exposed asbestos without any of the required protective gear, proper notification or requisite training,” his court filing contends.

Pepe has sued Richmond University and Mount Sinai Hospital. In a statement, Richmond University said Pepe’s termination “was not in any way connected” to his safety allegations to OSHA.

“We are confident that there is no exposure risk to employees or patients,” said the statement. “Richmond University Medical Center takes all safety issues very seriously and has active process for investigating and addressing environmental concerns in a timely manner.”