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Is Access to a Toilet a 'Basic Human Right'?: Jury Awards Two Workers $332K for Not Having One

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"Hopefully no one will have to suffer again what I've been through."

Image: Wikimedia

Douglas Eki shakes his attorney's hand and Xerxes Doctolero hugs one of his lawyer's employees. (Photo: Aimee Green/The Oregonian)

PORTLAND, Ore. (The Blaze/AP) — Two workers who claimed they were forced to urinate in a bucket have been awarded $332,000 after a jury found they were fired for complaining to Oregon regulators about the lack of an onsite toilet.

The Oregonian reports that Douglas Eki and Xerxes "Jason" Doctolero told the state Occupational Safety and Health Division that they used the bucket because they couldn't get to a toilet fast enough.

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They testified that their employer, Menzies Aviation, refused to provide them with a toilet and that using the restrooms of nearby businesses wasn't a solution because they were not welcome. The men performed mechanical work at Portland International Airport.

The state agency cited the company in August 2010 for failing to provide restrooms. The men were fired later that month.

A company lawyer contended the men were fired because they kept using the bucket after being told not to.

Here's more from The Oregonian on the jury's decision and the reaction of the men who were involved:

The jury found that the company, which has more than 17,000 employees worldwide and is headquartered in the United Kingdom, retaliated against the men for cooperating with the OSHA inspector. Juror Lila Zamani said the company's treatment of the men was "definitely despicable." She said she and other jurors believed that having easy access to a toilet was a basic human right.

"We talked about the concept of dignity -- being able to go to the bathroom within 30 seconds or a minute," Zamani said.

After Multnomah County Circuit Judge Edward Jones read the verdict, Eki and Doctolero gave each other a hearty hug, then turned to their attorney and hugged him. Doctolero said working without ready access to a restroom was humiliating, but it was also embarrassing to take the stand and speak about accidents while on the job.

"Hopefully no one will have to suffer again what I've been through," said Doctolero, 42, a Portland father of four who worked as much as 85 hours a week between two jobs.

The Oregonian reports that it is "unclear" if the company will appeal the court's decision.

The breakdown of the $332K award is $77,000 to Doctolero and $15,000 to Eki for wages and benefits they lost after being fired. Each were also given $30,000 for "pain and suffering." The award for punitive damages, which according to the Oregonian will go to the state's crime victims compensation fund, was $90,000.

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