Tyler Pipe Workers Suing Company for Discrimination and Termination

Current and former Tyler Pipe workers are taking the company to court.  This one day after the company's safety record gets national scrutiny.

Tyler Pipe was blasted in a front-page article in yesterday's New York Times. The Times highlighted the many injuries and deaths that have occurred at the plant, and suggests profits are put before safety.

Wednesday afternoon, a lawsuit was filed in Tyler district court. The plaintiffs say they were discriminated against-- some say they were fired-- after being injured on-the-job.

"I've been working at tyler pipe for 23 years. I started in the snack bar," says Edna Madison, who says Tyler Pipe meant a chance to make ends meet-- in fact, where hard work meant good pay. Now she can hardly stand, she's out of a job, and she's going to court.

"It used to be a good place to work, but it's not a good place to work for now," she says.

About a year ago, she was at the plant working with heavy pipe fittings.

"I took one off, and I went to turn and that's when I hurt my back."

At the plant clinic that Friday night, she remembers that heat was applied. But she says there could be no doctor's visit until management gave the OK. Not even to the ER.

"I was in a lot of pain. But when you go to the emergency room, if you don't get [permission] from them to go to the emergency room, they won't pay."

Edna says she was soon back at work, on light duty, and with a bulging disc in her back.

"I worked for a week, and I couldn't. My back was hurting me too bad," she remembers.

Edna feels she got static from bosses, and after months on light duty, she says they wouldn't wait for her to get well.

"He said he [Human Resources Director Boyd Collier] did not have anything for me to do, so they terminated me on the third of September. I don't even think they look for anything else."

Collier says Madison's firing was "done properly", but couldn't comment further on the lawsuit because he hadn't seen it.

Edna Madison says she is ready to tell her story in court.

"They're rotten.  I'm going to be honest with you.  They're not fair."

She says she's afraid 26 years of hard work might end in a lifetime of pain.

"They're not fair when people get hurt."

Reported by Morgan Palmer