Three people are suing a city of Industry collector of human breast milk, alleging they lost their jobs for resisting work conditions that included lifting and tearing open heavy bags in cold temperatures.
David De La Riva of Los Angeles, Adrian Villalobos of El Monte and Karla Olivas of La Puente brought the complaint Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Prolacta Bioscience Inc., alleging wrongful discharge, retaliation, harassment and discrimination. The three seek unspecified damages.
A Prolacta Biosciences representative could not be immediately reached.
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The company collects, stores and distributes human breast milk to hospitals and other health care providers, according to the suit. Lactating donors provide their frozen breast milk directly to Prolacta Biosciences in large, heavy plastic bags sometimes weighing more than 100 pounds, the suit states.
The plaintiffs handled up to 700 such bags daily in temperatures of about 50 degrees at the facility in the 700 block of Baldwin Park Boulevard, the suit states.
The three had to rip bags open with their hands without sufficient protective equipment, sometimes causing severe injuries, the suit states.
Management knew about the plaintiffs' injuries, but did not provide a safe working environment, the suit alleges.
The plaintiffs all had at least one surgery on their hands, wrists, arms or shoulders because of the "severe and preventable occupational injuries'' they suffered on the job, the suit states.
When the plaintiffs reported their injuries, they were reprimanded and targeted for negative employment actions, the suit states.
One manager told De La Riva to "go get a better job'' and another boss recommended to Villalobos that he "find a new place to work,'' according to the suit.
Olivas was denied a request for a different position and her work schedule was changed to her disadvantage, the suit states.
All of the plaintiffs resisted the work conditions and either requested or took medical leave, the suit states. Management retaliated by either firing or forcing them to quit instead of trying to accommodate the trio for their injuries, the suit alleges.
Other employees have also been fired by Prolacta Biosciences for complaining about allegedly unsafe working conditions, the suit states.