A former worker at a McDonald’s location in San Jose, California recently filed a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against the company, claiming she was fired for leading protests against the restaurant when it failed to provide workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The employee, Maria E. Ruiz Bonilla, was at a higher risk of serious results from the pandemic due to being a diabetic. She was a 16-year employee of the restaurant.
When the pandemic began, McDonald’s discouraged employees from wearing masks while in the workplace, despite DCD guidelines that were recommended at the time. Ruiz organized protests and walkouts against the restaurant in March and April in the time before the company changed its policies.
Ruiz claims her hours were cut as a response to her organizing the protests and talking to the media about the issues. By July, she had been suspended and then fired.
In her lawsuit, Ruiz says her supervisors responded to her actions by yelling rudely at her, and by taking disciplinary action against her. In a statement in response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for McDonald’s said the termination came after she “falsely reported a safety violation, created and provided false evidence, and lied during the investigation.”
There has been a significant increase in whistleblower claims filed with various agencies throughout 2020 in response to the pandemic. Many people report experiencing retaliation or wrongful termination as a result of blowing the whistle on companies’ or organizations’ failure to implement proper health and safety protocols to keep workers safe during the pandemic.
For more information about how to take action as a whistleblower, contact a trusted whistleblower lawyer at Kardell Law Group.