Woman opposed to smoking on the job is laid off
FENTON, Mo. -- An asthmatic woman who was fighting to eliminate smoking at her DaimlerChrysler assembly line job has been laid off.
Rossie Judd was told Friday she was being laid off and would need to file for unemployment.
Judd, an employee for eight years, has said the fumes at her job already have sent her to the hospital five times this year.
She gave the plant a note from a doctor on July 30. It said that due to her asthma she was unable to work near smoking or paint fumes and she should not wear a mask like the ones worn by workers in the paint department. She was told the plant had no work for her.
"The extent of her medical restrictions were such that we literally couldn't place her anywhere in the plant," said Chrysler spokesman Dan Bodene.
Bodene said the state unemployment and supplementary benefits should amount to about 95 percent of Judd's normal salary. He said he didn't know when Judd could return to work but said the company was working on the smoking issue.
Chrysler, Ford and General Motors representatives are meeting with Pat Lindsey with Tobacco Free Missouri to figure out how auto manufacturing plants around St. Louis can comply with the state's Clean Indoor Air Act. That law says companies may legally designate no more than 30 percent of the workplace for smoking areas.
When Judd made her complaints known, the common practice at the three auto manufacturers' plants in the region of allowing workers to smoke in many areas while on the job was challenged.
The National Labor Relations Board has dismissed Judd's unfair labor practice charge. Judd had complained that Chrysler retaliated against her by sending her to the paint department, the plant's only nonsmoking department. Judd also said the union failed to process her grievance about secondhand smoke.
DaimlerChrysler said earlier this year that it allows smoking in 25 of its 26 U.S. manufacturing plants; the exception is Newark, Del. Delaware enacted a law that required that plant to become smoke-free last November, the company said.