SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A woman who contracted the coronavirus in Utah has sued her employer arguing the American Fork-based company did not take proper precautions to protect its employees against COVID-19.
Juana Victoria Flores filed the lawsuit Wednesday against Built Bar, which manufactures and distributes nutritional supplements, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The company denies the claims, saying it has met and exceeded government guidelines on sanitizing and social distancing while working to keep employees safe.
Flores said she emailed human resources April 8 concerned about the number of people on the production line who were sick and recommended a professional company be brought in to clean up or fumigate the building.
Flores developed a cough the next day and was diagnosed with the coronavirus less than a week later, she said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Flores never received a response to her email, she said.
The lawsuit claims Built Bar “knowingly, intentionally and recklessly” exposed its employees to the coronavirus and allegedly refused to provide employees with personal protective equipment, did not sanitize its facilities and threatened to terminate anyone who raised safety concerns.
Flores’ daughter and roommate also tested positive for COVID-19, she said. Her attorney Juan Carlos Gutierrez declined to comment on the lawsuit Friday.
The company told The Associated Press on Thursday it had been proactively communicating with employees since March about staying home when sick. After learning employees were infected, it took “immediate and swift action” to combat the virus by shutting down the facility for a week to sanitize, reconfigure machinery to allow for social distancing, implement new cleaning procedures and stagger shifts. Employees were paid during the shutdown, company officials said.
“We care deeply about our employees, customers and partners and will continue to implement solutions from all sources,” said CEO Nick Greer in a statement. “We feel for Victoria and her family and sincerely hope her daughter is able to recover soon. I wish I had known regarding her daughter’s situation, which I have learned about from the lawsuit and the media, so we could have helped.”
Flores is seeking compensation for a host of grievances, including legal fees, past and future medical expenses, depression, diminished earning capacity and lost wages.