Pair say protests over lack of PPE got them fired

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Posted at 2:10 PM, Mar 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-28 17:10:20-04

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Two former employees of a loan company are suing the firm, alleging they were wrongfully fired in 2020 for protesting that they were not given personal protective equipment to protect them from the coronavirus.

Rodrigo Josue Ruiz-Munoz and Yolieska Caceres brought the suit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Grupo Estrella LLC, alleging wrongful termination and whistleblower retaliation. They seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

A Grupo Estrella representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

The suit alleges that despite Los Angeles County's declaration of a local health emergency, the two call center employees were required to work "directly in the center of life-risking health conditions and required ... to work continuously in this environment for the entire duration of their shifts."

In March 2020, the plaintiffs complained to management about their alleged failure to abide by government mandates, including providing PPE during work shifts, the suit states.

"Plaintiffs were informed that defendants would not provide any PPE to its employees or maintain social distancing mandates in the call center where plaintiffs worked," the suit states.

The pair complained again less than a week later, but their protests were once again ignored, according to the suit.

"After coming to the understanding the defendants simply did not care about the safety hazards posed by its unsafe and unlawful working conditions, plaintiffs began to experience a continued sense of helplessness," the suit states.

Ruiz-Munoz and Caceres were fired on March 19, 2020, according to the suit. When Caceres returned to pick up her personal belongings, she saw that only those employees who had complained about the company's failure to provide PPE had lost their jobs, according to the suit.