Former Employee Sues Foster Farms for Wrongful Termination

A complaint was removed from California state court on Monday. The case was originally filed plaintiff Ricardo Perez against defendants Foster Poultry Farms, Foster Farms, LLC (collectively, Foster), Tom Doe, Alyssa Melo, Balhar Kaur, and a group of unknown defendants. The complaint for economic, non-economic, compensatory, and punitive damages alleges that the plaintiff was wrongfully terminated by Foster.

The plaintiff began working for Foster in May of 2018, and one year later was hired full-time. As a full-time employee, he oversaw loading and unloading products to be placed in a shipping area. The complaint asserts that Perez was “a leader throughout his employment and oftentimes the newer stackers looked to him for guidance” and that he “performed his job duties in an exemplary manner.”

The plaintiff is a Hispanic man. Most of the positions at Foster were held by employees of Indian ethnicity. Perez asserts that these employees often only spoke amongst themselves. In early 2020, Perez had an altercation with one of the employees that resulted in him getting punched in the face. Perez reported the incident to two of his supervisors, including defendant Kaur, but no action was taken until Perez went to a human resources representative.

Days after going to the HR representative, the plaintiff was suspended without pay. Perez claims that the suspension was “done in retaliation for him raising a complaint about management’s lack of attention to his safety concerns.”

When Perez returned from his suspension, he explains that his manager, Balhar Kaur, began treating him differently due to her close relationship with the employee who had punched the plaintiff in the face. She reportedly began “attempting to write him up or send him home early for non-critical and non-existent incidents and scrutinized him more than other non-Hispanic employees.”

Kaur later began demanding that the plaintiff work at speeds which jeopardized his own safety due to him being the last stop on a conveyor belt line. After the plaintiff slipped due to the unsafe nature of the work, he complained, and his complaints were dismissed. Perez later fell again, and a clinic nurse ordered that he return to work on light duty. The plaintiff explains that Kaur failed to provide him with any accommodations and demoted the level of his responsibilities to that of an entry-level employee.

The plaintiff was later terminated for “causing a safety hazard,” which Perez contends is a cover up for “their otherwise unlawful reasons for terminating his employment.”

The complaint cites discrimination and hostile work environment on the bases of disability, race, national origin, color, ethnicity, and ancestry, retaliation for engaging in protected activity, failure to provide reasonable accommodation and engage in interactive processes, failure to prevent discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, negligent hiring, supervision, and retention, wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation, waiting time penalties, and more. As a result of the misconduct, the plaintiff is seeking general, special, and exemplary damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, litigation fees, declaratory relief, and any other relief deemed just by the Court.

The plaintiff is represented by Shegerian & Associates, Inc.