An employer can be sued for the death of a laundry worker if it knew that employees routinely violated safety rules in order to improve productivity, a federal court in Oklahoma has ruled. The worker was employed at a Cintas plant in Tulsa that used automated machinery to clean uniforms. He died when he fell into a dryer while attempting to clear a conveyor jam. Cintas argued that it couldn’t be sued and that the worker’s family was limited to collecting workers’ compensation.
But the court said that that the company could be sued if it intentionally acted in a way that it knew was likely to cause the death. In this case, there was evidence that company managers knew that workers routinely tried to fix equipment while it was still operating, and that this practice had led to accidents at other plants.