In-N-Out Worker Sues For Retaliation Over Workplace Safety Complaints
Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only. McCormack Law Firm is not involved in this class action.
Fast-food chains are often in the news for various labor violations against workers, ranging from wage theft to sexual harassment. The latest is In-N-Out Burger, which allegedly failed to enforce COVID-19 safety measures in the workplace and retaliated against employees for reporting the company to public health authorities.
Former In-N-Out butcher Luis Becerra, 31, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of current and former employees of the fast-food chain dating back to January 2020. Becerra worked in the company’s meat department from July 2015 until he was fired in May 2020.
Becerra alleged In-N-Out failed to ensure that all workers practiced social distancing in the workplace after the COVID-19 pandemic began. In addition, the employer did not make it mandatory for all employees to wear protective gear like face masks.
Becerra alleged that In-N-Out failed to ensure that all workers practiced social distancing in the workplace after the COVID-19 pandemic began. In addition, the employer did not make it mandatory for all employees to wear protective gear like face masks.
Because Becerra and his coworkers were worried about their safety at work, he filed a report with the LA Public Health Department. In his report, Becerra said his employer did not place sick workers in the meat department on medical leave even though many were displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
Becerra also informed other butchers, many of whom did not speak English, of their right to report workplace safety concerns. The health department found health and safety violations after carrying out a workplace inspection in response to Becerra’s complaint.
A week later, In-N-Out issued a “final warning” to Becerra for attendance reasons. According to the lawsuit, other workers received similar retaliatory warnings for speaking out.
The lawsuit also alleged that In-N-Out subjected Becerra and other workers to disciplinary action when they took protected time off work. This occurred even though the employees provided valid reasons for taking medical leave, submitted supporting documentation and made sure the leave was approved.
Human Resources said Becerra’s time off would not count against him. However, the lawsuit claimed he was later written up “because the absences were not covered” despite being approved by the employer and protected under the law.
Becerra was allegedly fired after taking a few days of sick leave for his asthma and for complaining about workplace safety conditions. The burger chain also failed to pay him all the wages he was owed upon termination, the lawsuit said.
Reporting health and safety violations in the workplace is a protected activity under California law. When an employee is fired in retaliation for engaging in protected activities, it may be considered wrongful termination. It is also unlawful for employers to discipline workers who are eligible to take protected medical leave.
If your rights at work have been violated, contact the San Francisco Bay Area employment lawyers at McCormack Law Firm. We have experience handling all types of employment cases and can help you understand your legal options.
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