Sacramento, CA – A grocery store in Northern California and a company it uses for janitorial services harassed Latino employees and unlawfully fired one of them after they complained about the hostile work environment, a federal lawsuit filed today by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) on behalf of the workers charges.
A Davis branch of Nugget Market Inc., a 12-store chain with stores in the Sacramento area and in Marin and Sonoma Counties, subjected the workers to severe and continual harassment motivated by the supermarket managers’ racial and ethnic biases. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento, also names as defendant One Stop Solution, a janitorial service that contracts with Nugget and hired one of the plaintiffs to do cleaning work.
MALDEF is suing on behalf of two workers – Jimmy David Ramirez-Castellanos, who is of Salvadoran ancestry and was jointly employed by Nugget Market and One Stop Solution, and Francisco Javier Gomez Espinoza, who is of Mexican ancestry and was a stock clerk at the Mace location of Nugget Market in Davis. Mr. Ramirez-Castellanos was fired by One Stop Solution in December 2015, with less than a year on the job, at the behest of Nugget Market after he complained of harassment involving insults and racist comments. Mr. Gomez Espinoza, who was hired by Nugget Market in 2011, quit in June 2016 in the face of discrimination and harassment.
“While our national political discourse may have been coarsened by the anti-Latino rhetoric of Donald Trump, that does not excuse or permit racial harassment in the workplace,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “Latino workers, like all workers, have the right to a workplace free of racial targeting and stereotyping.”
Both men complained that managers at the market continually made demeaning comments about the work habits of Latinos and, during the presidential race, referenced then-candidate Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign promises to humiliate them. It is illegal under federal and state law to subject employees to abusive and hostile work environments and to retaliate against them for registering complaints about harassment.
“It is an honor to represent courageous workers denouncing the on-the-job racism, xenophobia, and hostility that they endured,” said MALDEF staff attorney Miranda Galindo. “This lawsuit seeks justice for our clients by holding Nugget Market, Inc. and One Stop Services accountable for maintaining a discriminatory workplace.”
The lawsuit filed by MALDEF on behalf of the workers seeks a jury trial and compensatory and punitive damages for violating their rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the California Fair Housing and Employment Act, and common law prohibitions on wrongful termination of employment.
Read the complaint here.