Over 20 immigrant workers are claiming a case of wrongful termination from a Michigan car factory after they skipped work to participate in the anti-Trump “Day Without Immigrants” rally in February, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The former employees of EZ Industrial Solutions, an auto parts manufacturer based in Detroit, have taken their case to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on grounds that they were wrongfully fired for participating in a political protest.
The complaint claims that the employees, who were nearly all women from Mexico and Central America, were “coercively questioned” by their employer about their plans to participate, and were originally warned they would only be suspended for one week.
However, the company denies the allegations, saying that their decision was within the confines of the law. In a statement to the Detroit Free Press, EZ Industrial Solutions operations manager Jordan Yoder said:
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.
Meanwhile, the workers’ lawyer, Tony Paris, who filed the complaint on their behalf, contended that the firing goes against normal company practices.
“Workers wouldn’t be punished for not calling in because they don’t have to do that anyway,” Paris told the Free Press, adding that the employer had a relaxed work schedule whereby employees could drop in and out as they pleased. He also claimed the workers might have been targeted because of their ethnicity, given the company had a majority white senior management team compared with a largely immigrant workforce.
The rally attended by the employees took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as participants celebrated the contribution of illegal immigrants and protested the immigration policies of the Trump administration.
The NLRB is currently reviewing the complaint, and it will now be sent to its D.C. office for further review.