NEW ORLEANS (CN) - A former employee claims in court that Rolls Royce Commercial Marine fired him for protesting its environmental violations, then policed his Facebook page and threatened that if remaining employees contacted him, they could be fired too.
Joe Lacara claims in Federal Court that while he worked as a service coordinator for Rolls Royce in 2010 he walked into the St. Rose Shop and saw "a previously covered (by plate) hole in the concrete floor being excavated slightly and being covered over with concrete and painted over to match the shop floors. Plaintiff questioned Freeman about it and was told by Freeman to forget about seeing it and it was being taken care of."
Randall Freeman was manager of the company's St. Rose building, according to the complaint. The only defendant named in the complaint is Rolls Royce Commercial Marine. St. Rose is just west of New Orleans.
Later, Lacara says, he complained to vice president of service John Hanzl "that he was concerned about how the storage tank issue mentioned above was being handled. Plaintiff noticed that the leak had been roughly patched up but did not meet environmental guidelines. Hanzl ignored plaintiff's complaint by telling plaintiff not to concern himself with that matter," according to the complaint.
Lacara adds: "At the time, the St. Rose facility was preparing for ISO 14001 certification, which is related to environmental management" and that "this tank issue may have caused defendant to not receive or be delayed in receiving the ISO certification. Thus, the leaking tank was not reported to the auditor during the certification process."
After he made a fuss over the tank, Lacara says, he was transferred, ostensibly for 6 months. After the 6 months was up, he says he asked to be reassigned to his former position as service coordinator but was told the position had been eliminated. After that, he says, he was fired under false pretexts, though it was because he had complained about the leaking storage tank.
Lacara adds: "Plaintiff was also told by a former co-worker that he had 'started trouble' and that if they had to dig up the whole shop, the company would lose substantial money and man hours.
"Further, plaintiff was also told by a former co-worker that Rolls Royce told her that she was not allowed to have any communications with Lacara, specifically on Facebook, and that if she did, her employment with the company would be in jeopardy. Upon information and belief, Rolls Royce is policing Lacara's Facebook page to see if any current employees are contacting Lacara."
Lacara seeks 3 years of lost wages and treble damages under the Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Statute.
He is represented by James Arruebarrena of New Orleans.