Drug giant Pfizer is being sued by a former employee who claims she was made ill by unsafe work practices at the company’s Groton laboratories, and then wrongfully dismissed when she complained. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, Pfizer says the allegations have been independently investigated and dismissed.
Becky McClain is a molecular biologist who was employed as a researcher in Pfizer’s vaccine program. She says in her suit that she was not informed that in 2003, a colleague in her lab was working with live viruses. She claims he was not following standard safety procedures. McClain says she became ill with chronic fatigue syndrome, joint pain, and periodic paralysis. She says she raised safety concerns with the company but after taking medical leave she was dismissed from her job.
McClain is claiming wrongful dismissal, and her case is due to be heard in U.S. District Court in Hartford. Pfizer denies that the dismissal was a retaliation against McClain, saying she was terminated because she refused to return to work for a period of 11 months, despite repeated efforts by the company to secure her return. In papers submitted to the court, Pfizer says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an eight month investigation of the case. Spokeswoman Liz Power.
OSHA found that our workplace was safe. In fact the federal district court that’s now hearing Ms McClain’s claims has dismissed that Pfizer caused any physical harm to Ms McClain as a result of her workplace or any safety in the workplace.
OSHA would not comment directly on the case – it’s the agency’s policy not to reveal any details of workers involved in whistleblower complaints.
For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.