A 71-year-old man is suing a company that acquires and manages apartment buildings, alleging in court papers filed in Los Angeles that he was fired from his longtime janitorial job in 2019 due to his age and for complaining that his boss wanted him to work on Saturdays in violation of his faith as a Seventh-day Adventist.
Luis Ruiz-Escobar brought the suit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court against AvalonBay Communities Inc., alleging wrongful discharge, age and religious discrimination and retaliation. He seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
An AvalonBay representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Ruiz-Escobar says he worked for nearly 20 years at AvalonBay and its predecessor company in Studio City and performed his duties well. But in December 2018, his supervisor, George”Jorge” Perdomo, abruptly told the plaintiff that he would have to star working on Saturdays, according to his court papers.
Ruiz-Escobar says he told Perdomo that he is a practicing Seventh-day Adventist and that it was commonly known that people of his faith cannot work on Saturdays. However, Perdomo, who is not named as a defendant, “did not care” about Ruiz-Escobar’s faith and advised the plaintiff that his mind was made up, the suit alleges.
After complaining to human resources, Ruiz-Escobar was exempted from having to work on the Sabbath. “As a result, however, Perdomo began a retaliation campaign against plaintiff, looking for any excuse to criticize and nitpick at (his) work,” the suit alleges.
In January 2019, AvalonBay management suddenly fired Ruiz-Escobar, telling him it was because of his poor job performance, the suit states. But the plaintiff alleges he lost his job due to a “continuing violation of discrimination and retaliation substantially motivated by his age, his need and requests for religious accommodation … and (AvalonBay’s) perception that he was participating in activities in opposition to its illegal employment practices.”
Ruiz-Escobar believes he was replaced by someone substantially younger than him and that the company terminated at least three other longtime workers over 60 years old in the years leading up to his firing, the suit states.