More than 20 immigrant workers in Michigan were stunned to find themselves out of a job after they skipped work to attend a “Day Without Immigrants” rally in February.
The former employees of Detroit-area auto parts maker EZ Industrial Solutions LLC say they were wrongfully fired, despite warnings from company management that there would be repercussions for missing work without permission.
They are now taking their case to federal labor regulators, the Detroit Free Press reported. In a charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the immigrant workers from Mexico and Central America claim EZ Industrial Solutions unjustly fired them for taking part in a political protest.
The complaint alleges that “the employer coercively questioned employees” on two separate occasions about their plans to attend rallies scheduled for February 16. Workers also say they were fired even though company management previously said they would only be handed a one-week suspension for skipping work.
EZ Industrial Solutions says it acted within the law when it fired the workers. Operations manager Jordan Yoder defended the company’s actions in an e-mailed statement to the Free Press:
“The law is quite clear that employees can’t just not show up to work when they’re expected, and also that they are not free to participate in political, non-work related protests during their work day without consequences. We therefore deny any wrongdoing and are confident that the charge will be dismissed.”
Tony Paris, a Detroit lawyer who filed the NLRB complaint on behalf of the fired workers, claims EZ Industrial Solutions doesn’t normally require its workers to call in about missing work because they have an informal schedule.
“Workers wouldn’t be punished for not calling in, because they don’t have to do that anyway,” Paris told the Free Press. “The employer never cared. You could not go in for three days” and then show up and work, he added.
Yoder told The Daily Caller News Foundation on Monday that “the allegations that were made by Tony Paris are inaccurate.” He declined to add further detail, citing a policy not to discuss pending litigation.
The Detroit office of the NLRB has forwarded complaint to the agency’s Washington, D.C. headquarters for further review.