Lawsuit against North Pacific Seafoods alleges “false imprisonment” due to forced quarantine
A lawsuit against North Pacific Seafoods has been filed on behalf of 150 seasonal workers from Mexico and Southern California who have been forced to quarantine at a hotel near Los Angeles International Airport, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The forced quarantine was implemented after three of the workers tested positive for COVID-19. The workers have been at the hotel since 10 June and are not being paid, the suit alleges. The lawsuit was filed on Friday, 19 June, in San Francisco Superior Court and alleges false imprisonment, nonpayment of wages, and unlawful business practices, among other complaints.
The workers, most of whom hail from Mexico and Southern California, were hired by the company on 2 June to work at its Red Salmon Cannery in Naknek, Alaska, with an agreement to continue through the end of August.
The lawsuit alleges that the workers were initially sent to the Crowne Plaza Hotel to be tested for the coronavirus and were instructed that they would quarantine there for four days while awaiting the results of the test. They were told that from there, they would be transported to Alaska by charter, and that North Pacific would cover the costs of transportation, food, and lodging for their seasonal workers.
Attorney Jonathan Davis, who is representing the workers involved in the suit, called the case “bizarre and outrageous.”
The Crowne Plaza is also named in the lawsuit.
”We want to stress that the hotel did not prevent any guest from freely leaving the property and provided safe and comfortable accommodations to the guests, including three meals a day," Crowne Plaza spokesperson Jacob Hawkins responded in an email.
The Los Angeles Times reached out to North Pacific Seafoods Vice President of Human Resources Leauri Moore, who said that she had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.
According to the lawsuit, the keycards of the quarantined employees were deactivated so they couldn’t leave their rooms and they were treated with termination if they left their rooms. The lawsuit also says that they were only receiving two meals daily.
If the court rules that the workers are owed payment for the two-week quarantine period damages for the lost wages could exceed USD 1.1 million (EUR 974,610).