Philadelphia Teachers Accuse the District of Violating Their First Amendment Rights After Holding Asbestos Protests

For purposes of this article, the teachers in this case will be referred to as E.T., C.G., and K.C.

Recently, schoolteachers from a school in Philadelphia filed a class action lawsuit accusing the district of violating their Constitutional rights. E.T. and C.G. teach at a public school in Philadelphia, while K.C. retired in June this year. According to the lawsuit, the teachers claim that the school withheld their pay after they protested having to work in dangerous conditions. The teachers gathered their workstations on the outside yard of the school because of fears that the school facilities might be asbestos-contaminated. The school withheld the teachers’ pay for unauthorized absences. According to the complaint, the district withheld the teachers’ pay for August 26 and 27.

According to an attorney representing all three teachers, the district knew that the teachers were not absent. According to the attorney, the district knew the teachers were working. The teachers’ attorney said that the district wanted to put an end to the protest, so it punished the teachers. According to the attorney, such an act violates the First Amendment. The First Amendment gives people the right to express themselves and assemble. According to the lawsuit, up to 50 teachers were unjustly punished and lost wages because of protesting. The affected teachers made it clear that they would not have had to take action if the school had provided them with complete information about asbestos remediation efforts and the dangers of asbestos.

The lawsuit alleges that according to the latest Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) report published for the school, there are more than one hundred “confirmed” and “assumed” asbestos sources in the building.

Asbestos is a Major Problem for School Employees

Asbestos is a fibrous material that occurs naturally, and that has historically been used for many industrial and construction purposes. This material is dangerous and can cause several diseases, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. Asbestos exposure has long been classified as a problem for firefighters and people who work in factories, shipyards, and construction sites. But these are not the only people at a high risk of asbestos exposure. Teachers, too, are on the list of people who need to be concerned about asbestos exposure.

Before the dangers of asbestos became widely known, it was used to construct a lot of schools, especially public ones. The material was mainly used because of its fire resistance and thermal insulation. However, as asbestos deteriorates over time, it breaks down into tiny fibers, which, when inhaled, can cause diseases.

In schools, asbestos can be found in various building materials. Examples of common asbestos-containing building materials include;

  • Floor tiles
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Wall plaster
  • Pipe insulation
  • Boiler insulation
  • Cement sheets

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