A waiter lost his job after telling the Michigan restaurant he tested positive for the coronavirus, a lawsuit says.
Nicolas Prada, who also worked as an assistant manager, accuses the owner of Tomukun Noodle Bar in Ann Arbor of firing him after he disclosed the positive test for COVID-19, according to a federal lawsuit filed Friday. The restaurant also declined to pay the employee sick leave as required under laws during the pandemic, the lawsuit says.
The restaurant owner did not respond to a request for comment by McClatchy News. He declined to comment for a story about the lawsuit by The Detroit News.
Prada became ill in late June and called in sick to work, the lawsuit says. He tested positive for COVID-19 several days later.
In a Facebook post on July 1, the restaurant announced an employee tested positive for the coronavirus. The restaurant said it was closing temporarily to allow workers to test for COVID-19 and quarantine.
About two weeks after his diagnosis, Prada received notice from the local health department he was free to end quarantine, the lawsuit says. But when Prada texted his manager that he could return to work, he got an unexpected response.
The owner is accused of “interrogating” Prada about where he contracted COVID-19 and his social life, saying evidence on social media showed him in a crowd, the lawsuit says.
“For PR reasons it would be best for you not to come back to work,” the owner told Prada, according to the lawsuit.
An executive order by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says employers aren’t allowed to “discharge, discipline, or otherwise retaliate against an employee for staying home when he or she is at particular risk of infecting others with COVID-19.”
The lawsuit also accuses the restaurant of violating the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides up to 80 hours of paid sick time to employees with COVID-19, by not paying Prada for work he missed while quarantining.
“My client Nicolas had worked for the restaurant for over two years and was simply trying to stay afloat during the pandemic like so many other struggling people at the time he was let go,” Prada’s attorney, Noah Hurwitz, told The Detroit News. “He thought he did everything right by notifying the restaurant and staying home until the Health Department approved his return.”