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Between April and August of last year, workers at a McDonald’s franchise in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles made verbal complaints to their managers about the restaurant’s safety and health conditions. Then, in June and July, they joined in strikes meant to protest the lack of precautions the company had been taking to combat COVID-19. Their complaints ranged from inadequate social distancing in the kitchen and not providing disposal gloves to refusing to require customers to wear masks. Some of the workers also filed complaints with California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, as well as the LA County Department of Public Health.
In September, four of the employees were fired under the guise of “job abandonment.” However, the state regulator has said that strike notices had been delivered to the franchisee, R&B Sanchez, stating that the employees intended to return to work and that the workers did request to return. In California, it is illegal to fire an employee for exercising their labor rights, so the case quickly became an issue of workers being fired in retaliation for their complaints.
In a victory for the workers who lost their jobs due to taking a stand for safe working conditions, the California Labor Commissioner has cited the franchisee for labor law violations and workplace retaliation and fined them $125,913. This is a crucial win for workers across the state, as many are afraid they will face retaliatory measures if they stand up and report problems in the workplace.
The citations name franchisees Beverly and Robert Sanchez, as well as the franchisee’s human resources officer, Brian Sanchez, as jointly and severally liable for the hefty wages and penalties owed. The breakdown of the fees are as follows:
Conditions also state that the franchisee, R&B Sanchez, must reinstate the four employees to their job positions, post information about the violations and citations in the workplace, and remove all negative references to the employees from their personnel files.
There are over forty-five labor laws, including Equal Pay Act violations, that the Labor Commissioner’s Office enforces to prohibit retaliation and discrimination in the workplace. The retaliation complaints that the office investigates include many of the following instances.
If you feel that you have been treated unfairly or retaliated against for complaining about conditions in your workplace, it is essential that you stand up for your rights. The trusted attorneys at The Law Office of Omid Nosrati know how to handle employers who take illegal action against workers when they voice concerns about unsafe conditions in the workplace. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation, and remember that you will not owe any legal fees if we do not recover compensation for you.
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