The owners of the Original Tommy’s Hamburgers chain are being sued by a former longtime manager who alleges she was wrongfully fired in 2021 for complaining about being forced to work with job-related injuries and with insufficient staff, requiring her to perform menial tasks normally assigned to subordinates.
Rosalia Rodriguez’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit allegations against Tomdan Enterprises Inc. and Koulax Enterprises include wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation, unlawful and unfair business practices, disability discrimination and failure to accommodate, pay overtime and provide meal and rest breaks.
Rodriguez seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit brought Monday. A representative for the Monrovia-based Tommy’s corporate companies did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Rodriguez was hired in 1994 and was promoted four years later to manage the Santa Monica restaurant and until 2020 she received no overtime pay, the suit states.
Rodriguez’s bonus pay was based in large part on her ability to run the restaurant within the tight labor costs set by management and she was subject to discipline if her restaurant exceeded specific expense limits, the suit states. As a result, she had to work long hours and spend most of her time performing the same types of tasks as hourly subordinate employees, according to her suit.
“As a result, plaintiff would often work long hours and skip her meal and rest breaks, without any overtime compensation …” the suit states.
In August 2002, Rodriguez began experiencing pain in her right hand and her back because of repetitive tasks related to her cooking and cleaning duties, forcing her to eventually leave on disability and undergo surgery in 2005, the suit states.
When Rodriguez returned to work, she was reassigned to manage the Pasadena restaurant and in 2019 she was transferred to the North Hills location, which was open 24 hours daily and over time became the chain’s busiest location, increasing her responsibilities, the suit states.
Rodriguez allegedly was forced to work even longer hours when the coronavirus pandemic struck because of employees getting sick or quitting.
In summer 2020, Rodriguez began experiencing the same pain in her right hand that she had experienced prior to her 2005 surgery and her back and neck also started hurting, the suit states. Staffing shortages at the North Hills store required Rodriguez to perform such repetitive tasks as cooking and cleaning, aggravating her injuries, according to the suit.
Rodriguez complained about her work conditions to her supervisor, the company’s head of human resources and the vice president of operations, but nothing was resolved, the suit states. She was reassigned to the Burbank restaurant last July and given a negative evaluation for her work at North Hills, the suit states.
Rodriguez was fired in September after being told she had altered an employee’s time sheets and for asking an employee to clock the plaintiff in while she was attending a management meeting at the corporate office, even though other managers were not fired for doing the same thing, the suit states.