A former assistant manager for a Superior Grocers store is suing the supermarket chain, alleging he was wrongfully fired this year for “caking” two female employees during a birthday festivity despite a longtime tradition of such celebrations at the store that continued after he left.
Ronald Parada’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges wrongful discharge, retaliation, failure to prevent retaliation and a violation of the California Family Rights Act protecting family leave. He seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit filed Wednesday.
A representative for the Santa Fe Springs-based company could not be immediately reached.
Parada was hired in 2012 as an assistant store director and later advanced to the positions of co-director and in November 2016 to store director, according to the suit.
“Throughout plaintiff’s employment with defendants, on birthdays and other celebrations, the employees celebrated by having cake and the person being celebrated would be `caked,’ i.e. lightly hit in the face with some cake or whipped cream,” according to the suit.
While working for the company, Parada complained about alleged excessive work hours for managers and reported various state Labor Code violations to management involving, among other things, paid time off and the alleged keeping of incorrect time records, the suit states.
Parada complained to supervisors in early 2020 that the company’s time-keeping software was inaccurate and that employees were not receiving sick pay, according to the suit.
Parada went on medical leave in May 2020 after being injured when the car he was driving was hit from behind by a drunk driver, the suit states. Three months later, he requested medical and bereavement leave after his father died, according to the suit.
In mid-February of this year, Parada took medical leave again after his mother became ill, the suit states. Less than two weeks later, Parada was fired and was told the reason was his having “caked” the two female workers, the suit states.
After Parada’s firing, the “caking” tradition continued at the store, the suit states. He believes the store’s explanation for his termination was a pretext for his protests about his work hours, reporting management’s alleged Labor Code violations and for requesting family leave, the suit states.