California's labor commissioner Wednesday announced citations totaling nearly $126,000 against a Los Angeles McDonald's franchisee, finding that the employer illegally fired four workers for reporting unsafe working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Too many workers fear retaliation if they report a problem or stand up for their rights," said Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower.
"California law has anti-retaliation protections in place that make it illegal for employers to punish workers for exercising their labor rights, such as reporting a workplace safety hazard. My office is committed to ensuring those laws are enforced."
The four employees of the Marengo Street McDonald's, operated by R&B Sanchez Inc., filed retaliation complaints with the Labor Commissioner's Office last September.
According to the labor commissioner, the workers had advised their employer, Cal/OSHA and the Los Angeles County Health Department about alleged unsafe work conditions that they were concerned exposed them to COVID-19 infections. They had also participated in strikes over safety conditions at the Marengo Street McDonald's, and subsequently received termination letters from their employer, according to Garcia-Brower.
The Labor Commissioner's Office on Feb. 12 issued citations totaling $125,913 in wages and penalties against the franchisee R&B Sanchez. Also named in the citations as jointly and severally liable are owners Robert Sanchez and Beverly Sanchez, as well as Brian Sanchez, who served as the franchisee human resources officer.
The citations include $45,193 in lost wages, $720 in interest due, and $80,000 in retaliation penalties. R&B Sanchez must reinstate the four workers to their jobs, remove any negative references from their personnel files, and post information on the citations and violations in the workplace, according to the labor commissioner.