Four former Walnut warehouse workers who fell ill with the coronavirus and quarantined at home are suing their ex-employer, alleging they were wrongfully not allowed to return to work.
Angelica Avila, Angelica Loza, Sergio Gonzalez and Bryan Gonzalez brought the lawsuit Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Port Logistics Group Inc., alleging discrimination, retaliation, harassment and failure to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation. They seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit filed Tuesday.
A representative for the company, which according to news reports rebranded in May as Whiplash, could not be immediately reached.
Avila and Loza were hired in November 2019, both as scanners and packers, the suit states. Sergio Gonzalez was hired in November 2018 and Bryan Gonzalez in June 2019, both as drivers, the suit states.
All four plaintiffs worked together in the same Cheryl Lane warehouse as Juan Gonzalez, the husband of Avila, the son of Loza and Sergio Gonzalez and the brother of Bryan Gonzalez, according to the suit.
Last November, Juan Gonzalez, who is not a plaintiff, made several complaints regarding the alleged lack of COVID-19 safety precautions in place at the warehouse and told supervisors at a staff meeting that machinery and workstations were not being sanitized between the morning and afternoon shifts, the suit states.
Juan Gonzalez also told his bosses that personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks and hand sanitizer was not being provided to the warehouse employees, forcing workers to have to buy their own, the suit states.
“Although Juan Gonzalez raised these complaints, nothing was done,” the suit states.
But warehouse workers began to test positive for the coronavirus as the plaintiffs saw their co-workers show up to work with fevers, coughs, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, sore throat and headaches, the suit states.
By mid-December, the plaintiffs began feeling ill and they — as well as Juan Gonzalez — subsequently tested positive for the virus while eventually suffering significant symptoms for several weeks, the suit states.
The plaintiffs were given two weeks pay during their quarantine period, the suit states. However, they and Juan Gonzalez told their supervisors in January that, by that time, they had tested negative and could return to work, but management never respond and did not allow them to resume their duties, the suit alleges.
“Given the circumstances, it is clear that the true and unlawful reason for plaintiffs’ termination was … the complaints of health and safety in the workplace raised by their family member, Juan Gonzalez, and retaliation for their contraction of the COVID-19 virus and relationship to Juan Gonzalez for his protesting an unsafe work environment,” the suit states.