A longtime production supervisor for a Pacoima-based wholesale bakery company is suing the business, alleging he was discriminated against and wrongfully laid off earlier this year for contracting the coronavirus and urging other ill employees to get tested.
The allegations in Ezequiel Quinonez’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against Global Bakeries LLC include discrimination, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent supervision, hiring and retention and violations of the state Labor Code.
Quinonez seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit filed Friday.
A representative for Global Bakeries could not be immediately reached for comment.
Quinonez was hired by the company in 1977 at age 20 and was a 63-year-old production supervisor at the time of his January firing, the suit states. Quinonez made $68,000 a year and he managed 15 to 20 employees in the finishing/decorating, packaging and production departments, making sure orders were filled accurately and on time, the suit states.
Quinonez was repeatedly denied raises and told he “already made a lot of money,” the suit states. One manager laughed in his face when he asked for a raise, the suit alleges.
The company had no policies on how to deal with COVID-19 after the pandemic began and no employees were instructed to take any precautions such as masks or sanitizers, nor were they provided any personal protective equipment, according to the suit.
Quinonez complained to management on behalf all of the employees that failing to have safety precautions during the pandemic would jeopardize the health and safety of all workers, the suit states. However, management allegedly told Quinonez and the other workers to keep a “business as usual” mentality.
Quinonez became sick in December at a time when at least eight other employees also were showing COVID-19 symptoms, the suit states. Quinonez later tested positive for the virus, obtained a leave of absence and quarantined for 14 days, the suit states.
Management later became irate when Quinonez told the other ill employees that they should take time to be tested as well, and those workers who had taken time off for testing were all ordered back to work, according to the suit.
Quinonez tested negative in mid-December and returned to work, but he was terminated on Jan. 5 and allegedly told it was part of a company layoff.
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