Waste workers in California have filed a lawsuit against a Napa Valley landfill, alleging they were exposed to hazardous chemicals while servicing vineyards belonging to Nancy Pelosi and Gavin Newsom during and after the 2020 Glass Fire. The group claims that they encountered methane gas, which is highly explosive and can cause suffocation, as well as contaminated water leaking from the Clover Flat Landfill.
According to the lawsuit, the workers faced retaliation and racial discrimination after raising concerns about potential air and water pollution at the landfill. Former St. Helena Mayor, Geoff Ellsworth, reportedly warned Pelosi and Newsom about contamination risks for years, but his warnings were allegedly ignored.
The group is seeking $300 million in restitution from the landfill and Upper Valley Disposal Services based on their complaint to California’s Division of Occupational Health and Safety. Jose Garibay Jr., the original plaintiff, revealed that the 15-member crew was forced to work long hours without proper training or equipment, aside from N95 masks, following the devastating Glass Fire. They were sent to clean up the aftermath before officials arrived, during which they were exposed to methane gas and contaminated water.
The waste workers argue that the Clover Flat Landfill officials repeatedly jeopardized employee safety. Although the landfill has since been sold to Waste Connections Inc., some former management members, including Christy Pestoni, who owns a nearby winery, are still employed. The employees are demanding an investigation into the previous management’s actions and testing for potential toxic materials downstream.
Garibay, who was wrongfully terminated in 2022 after speaking out against the landfill conditions, believes that laws were violated. The workers also claim that those residing at the landfill site were exposed to contaminated wastewater pumped through employee housing.
If you have been affected by employer violations like the waste workers in the Napa Valley lawsuit, take action now. Seek immediate legal assistance from Labor Law Advocates in California to safeguard your rights, seek justice, and hold your employer accountable. Contact us for a free consultation.