Proposed Class Action Filed by Former Immigrant Employees Against Pro-Health, LLC Alleging Violations of the WARN Act for Alleged Mass Layoff to Replace Them with Cheaper Visa Guest Workers
For Immediate Release
April 18, 2023
Denver, Colorado — Last week, a group of former employees of Pro-Health, a produce processing plant in northeastern Colorado, filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the company for failing to provide advance notice of mass layoffs, in violation of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.
The named plaintiffs, who represent a class of over 50 other similarly situated workers, allege that Pro-Health fired them without good cause and without notice, in order to replace them with H-2A visa guestworkers, who are more easily exploitable because their visa ties them to the employer.
The WARN Act protects workers by requiring qualifying employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of mass layoffs and covered plant closings. The complaint (available here) alleges that the plaintiffs in the case worked up to 90 hours per week sorting and processing potatoes. Many of the workers in the proposed class in this lawsuit worked for Pro-Health for decades before being fired from their jobs. The company fired them under the pretext of a supposed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audit of the facility, but there is no evidence of the audit. This alleged audit came only after workers expressed concern over working conditions and new policies that decreased break times even while performing back-breaking labor for over twelve hours a day.
“Pro-Health was built by and has succeeded because of immigrant labor. Many of us worked there for 10, 15, or 25 years and have sacrificed so much for this company, even throughout the pandemic. There was no real explanation and no gratitude for all of the hard work we did for their benefit. We just want to be treated fairly and feel like we received some justice for what we went through,” said Atilano Rodriguez, one of the named plaintiffs in this lawsuit.
“Pro-Health routinely required workers to put in 14 to 16 hour days of grueling labor, all while limiting their access to bathrooms and rest breaks. The physical and mental toll this took on these workers over the years is immense, and instead of being rewarded for their efforts, these workers were unfairly fired. With this lawsuit, we want to let Pro-Health know that these workers are not disposable and that its practices must change,” said Natasha Viteri, attorney at Towards Justice.
The workers are represented in this case by Towards Justice, a non-profit legal organization based in Denver, Colorado and Raisner Ropinian LLP, based in New York City.
This civil case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado.
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