He had to go, should he be gone? Former Glenn O. Hawbaker employee sues

A former Glenn O. Hawbaker employee, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the company Monday.
A former Glenn O. Hawbaker employee, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the company Monday. Centre Daily Times, file

A former Glenn O. Hawbaker employee filed a wrongful discharge lawsuit against the company Monday.

Jonathan Bamat said he was bitten by an insect and developed a large welt on the back of his neck while working on a company project on Aug. 7. He did not initially report the bite because he was concerned the company may retaliate against him, according to the lawsuit.

The bite was eventually reported, but Bamat said he was forced to do so in front of both the triage nurse and his supervisor.

Five days after the bite, Bamat was working on a company project outside and was drinking large amounts of water because of his medication. At one point, he had to “urinate badly” with no port-a-potties nearby, so he urinated between two truck doors.

Both men and women frequently do the same thing under similar circumstances and it is not an unusual practice at various Hawbaker work sites, according to the lawsuit.

“Had plaintiff not relieved himself in this frequently used manner, he would have been forced to urinate in his clothes in front of co-workers,” the lawsuit said.

Two female co-workers reported the incident and Bamat’s supervisor immediately reprimanded him.

While the supervisor was preparing the incident report, Bamat was called into a manager’s office and said he urinated by the truck. The manager then terminated Bamat before the incident report was completed, according to the lawsuit.

In response, Bamat said both men and women had previously done the same thing out of necessity. The manager then allegedly told Bamat he is “a white male and they can fire him for anything” and that “women are protected around here and they are treated special.”

Bamat is suing the company for wrongful discharge, invasion of privacy, discrimination and retaliation under section 504 of the rehabilitation act. He is demanding a jury trial and requesting reinstatement with the company, payment of back wages and compensatory and punitive damages.

The company, which ranks No. 5 in number of employees in Centre County, has had recent legal trouble.

In 2010, the company reached a $200,000 settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and had to pay more than $2.2 million in December because of a former employee’s wrongful termination lawsuit.

The company also remains the subject of an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General.

Vice President Mike Hawbaker did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc., a State College-based construction company, confirmed June 12, 2018, that it is under investigation by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. The context of the investigation has not yet been revealed.