Two men who contended that they were fired from a Metro job site in November 1975 because they complained about safety, have been awarded more than $32,000 in back pay and other benefits by a federal magistrate.
U.S. Magistrate Henry H. Kennedy Jr. ordered the payments yesterday in a suit brought on behalf of the two men by the Labor Department under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The men had worked as pile drivers for P&Z Co. Inc., a San Francisco firm that was the prime contractor on the Metro subway site underneath 12th Street and Pennsylvania NW, and was defendant in the suit.
The two men, Robert Elliott of Herndon and Patrick Coady of Brandywine, were fired by P&Z Nov. 20, 1975, after the crew on which they worked - Elliott was the foreman - was involved in an accident.
The mishap occured while the crew was moving a piece of the steel with a crane and dropped it on a high voltage line. The resulting short circuit electrified a substantial steel network beneath 12th Street.
The firm responded in court that the two men were fired because of the accident and because Coady additionally had an unsatisfactory work record.
The two men complained to the Labor Department, however, that they were fired because they had compalined frequently about safety procedures at the site.
Kennedy found that the two men had been viewed as "troublemakers" by supervisors. He cited the testimony of one worker who said the site superintendent once commented "he would rather have workers more concerned with work than with safety."
Kennedy pointed out that the accident in which the two men were involved was unlikely to have caused their firing. Elliot was not in charge of the maneuver that resulted in the mishap and Coady was not on the job site at the time.
Elliot was awarded $11,241.35 for lost wages (plus 6 percent interest). $1,126.92 for lost benefits and $120 for travel expenses while looking for new work. Coady was awarded $16,435.23 for lost wages (plus 6 percent interest, $1,754.37 for lost benefits and $268.20 for travel expenses while looking for new work.