HUDSONVILLE — A trio of former workers at Sunrise Acres Egg Farm in Hudsonville have sued the farm, claiming it was negligent in COVID-19 safety measures at the start of the pandemic.
Juana Beatrice Castaneda Sanchez, Juan Carlos Covarrubias and Margarita Rodriguez filed a lawsuit in Ottawa County 20th Circuit Court against Sunrise Acres, staffing company C&C West Poultry and other individuals May 25. The group is being represented by the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center and the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice.
Sunrise Acres Egg Farm is a family-owned farm that has operated in Hudsonville since 1949, according to its website. Bill Patmos, president of Sunrise Acres, told The Sentinel farm officials would wait until they know more about the lawsuit before making any statements.
The workers claim Sunrise Acres didn’t implement coronavirus safety protocols, leading to all three individuals contracting COVID-19 while at work. The workers also say they were not given paid sick leave for the time they missed while quarantining at home.
Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by Congress last year, employers were required to provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave. The provision in the FFCRA mandating this expired Dec. 31.
The workers said they raised concerns about COVID-19 last April, but their concerns went unmet. The workers say adequate personal protective equipment was not provided, social distancing was not enforced and workers who displayed COVID-19 symptoms were allowed to continue working. The lawsuit also claims that a worker who contracted COVID-19 did have to enter isolation, but other workers who came into contact with the individual did not.
“Defendants blithely ignored the rising concerns regarding the contagiousness of the COVID-19 virus and failed to implement policies in dereliction of federal guidelines and eventually Michigan Executive Orders regarding safeguards that necessitated implementation,” the lawsuit states.