Security Officer Suspended After Asthma Attack Urges Seattle Companies to Follow Law

seiuTracison Casarrubias knows firsthand how enforcing Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) law would give residents economic stability and transform their relationships with their employers.

The wife and mother once considered protecting Amazon’s Seattle headquarters as security specialist for Security Industry Specialists (SIS) to be a good job. But that all changed on the day she lost her breath.

Last October, Tracison suffered an asthma attack while on duty. Fighting to breathe, she wasn’t able to treat her unpredictable condition with an inhaler until after things took a turn for the worst. Trying to follow SIS employee protocol and seeking medical attention were distressing enough. But the aftermath of that day was worse.

Tracison says her supervisors suspended her two weeks later without pay for 3 days after she was relieved from her post by a supervisor due to her asthma attack, a clear violation of the PSST law.

“They said I was a good specialist and wanted to help me out,” she said. “But at the same time, the supervisor kept telling me ‘at the end of the day, we’re a business.’ But I’m a human being.”

Although Tracison felt many effects from that day, her employer experienced no consequences for breaking the law.

She used to view her employer favorably and enjoyed the work that supplemented her other part time job and often recommended SIS to her colleagues and friends. In the wake of her suspension, that’s all changed when she learned that her legal rights were violated.

Tracison says that her situation shows that security officers and other Seattle service workers are treated unfairly when it comes to family sick leave. She’s now fighting to protect these rights for workers.

“People should be concentrating on getting well and caring for their family members, not worrying about how they’ll make up for missing income,” she said.

Tracison says Seattle lawmakers must do more to enforce the city’s 2012 sick leave ordinance to protect the city’s growing population of service workers just like her whose livelihoods depend on their hourly wages. By law, these workers are entitled to receive sick leave benefits without fear of employer retaliation or lost wages.

“Something needs to be done to make sure companies follow the law,” she said. “If employers had accountability, things would change. It’s time to give this ball some momentum.”

This blog originally appeared on the blog page on September 24, 2014. Reprinted with permission.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.