Sunrise Acres Egg Farm in Hudsonville, Michigan is at the center of a lawsuit alleging it failed to implement COVID-19 safety protocols.
A handful of workers just decided to sue Sunrise Acres Egg Farm in Hudsonville, Michigan over allegations that it was “negligent in COVID-19 safety measures at the start of the pandemic.” The suit was filed by Juana Beatrice Castaneda Sanchez, Juan Carlos Covarrubias, and Margarita Rodriguez back on May 25 in Ottawa County 20th Circuit Court against Sunrise Acres, staffing company C&C West Poultry and other individuals. The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center and the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice are representing the plaintiffs.
Sunrise Acres Egg Farm has been in operation since 1949 in Hudsonville. It’s a family-owned farm. The suit itself was filed against the family-owned farm because the plaintiffs argue “Sunrise Acres didn’t implement coronavirus safety protocols, leading to all three individuals contracting COVID-19 while at work.” Additionally, the employees claim they were never “given paid sick leave for the time they missed while quarantining at home.”
For those who don’t know, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed last year by Congress required employers to “provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave.” However, that particular provision expired on December 31.
According to the suit, the employees first raised concerns about COVID-19 and the company’s safety protocols last April, but their concerns were allegedly ignored. The plaintiffs add that “adequate personal protective equipment was not provided, social distancing was not enforced and workers who displayed COVID-19 symptoms were allowed to continue working.” On top of that, the suit alleges that a “worker who contracted COVID-19 did have to enter isolation, but other workers who came into contact with the individual did not.” It further states:
“Defendants blithely ignored the rising concerns regarding the contagiousness of the COVID-19 virus and failed to implement policies in dereliction of federal guidelines and eventually Michigan Executive Orders regarding safeguards that necessitated implementation.”
As part of the suit, the plaintiffs are seeking emotional and economic damages, including compensation for lost wages when they had to quarantine. When commenting on the suit, MIRC Attorney Gonzalo Peralta said:
“We applaud the courage of workers like Juana for speaking up about their concerns…At the start of the pandemic, agricultural workers were deemed essential, and yet Juana’s employer didn’t take the necessary steps to protect their workers…Juana and her co-workers deserve to work in an environment that ensures their health and safety. It is an unfortunate reality where employers have to be compelled to act and redress wrongs through litigation.”