A class action lawsuit claims that some employees of a Bethesda staffing agency were victims of “intentional schemes to deny them wages.”
The complaint, filed Oct. 22 in U.S. District Court, accuses WMS Solutions, which also has offices in Baltimore, of violating state and federal regulations by making employees pay for job-related equipment and training out of pocket and not paying them for time spent in required training courses.
WMS supplies temporary employees to contractors to work in asbestos, mold and lead removal work, according to the complaint. The plaintiffs are seeking unpaid wages and the costs of training programs, physicals and personal protection equipment that the company is required by law to provide to employees at no cost, the complaint says.
Marvin Blandon, one of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit and a WMS employee, said that without proper training, he could get sick or bring asbestos home on his clothes to his wife and baby.
“I’ve been forced to pay hundreds of dollars just to make sure I don’t get sick from my work,” Blandon said through a translator. “Specialty training, equipment and trips to the doctor are also required so that I can do my job safely, and my employer should pay for them, not me.
“I decided to file this lawsuit because it’s time that WMS followed the law and provided safe working conditions for the people it hires.”
The complaint says WMS deducted a total of $110 from Blandon's wages for the Washington, D.C., asbestos license fee in 2011, and may have made other unauthorized deductions from his wages over the course of his employment. Blandon has also paid about $300 for annual asbestos refresher course fees, the complaint says, as well as about $32 for a respirator he is required to wear when performing asbestos abatement work.
So far, more than 30 WMS workers have filed to join the suit, but hundreds could be affected, said Sally Dworak-Fisher, an attorney with the Public Justice Center, which filed the lawsuit.
WMS did not return requests for comment as of Friday morning.