Baker Must Rehire|Despite Risk to Sanity

     SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – A California woman who claims a bakery owner fired her on a whim must be reinstated, a federal judge ruled.
     The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Peters’ Bakery on behalf of Marcela Ramirez, who claimed that Charles Peters made a habit of harassing her based on her race.
     According to the judge’s ruling, Peters made such comments as “Mexicans like you would rather lie than tell the truth” and “I never trusted your kind of people.”
     Peters fired Ramirez once in 2011, but after she won reinstatement with back pay in a union arbitration, Peters continued to harass and retaliate against her, the ruling said.
     The conflict between Ramirez and Peters has been a lengthy court battle with various stalls and hiccups, including a January dispute over whether an attorney could represent Peters after Ramirez had sought that attorney’s advice.
     According to the ruling, Peters fired Ramirez again in June 2015 and – when Ramirez asked him for a reason – said, “You know why. I don’t have to give you a fucking reason. I don’t like you. You’re done.”
     When asked by Ramirez’s supervisor and union rep why he was firing her again, Peters said, “I’m firing her for my mental health reasons, for my sanity. I’m going to lose my fucking sanity. I’m going to kill someone,” the ruling said.
     At that point, Ramirez had been working for the bakery for 14 years.
     Peters argued that Ramirez regularly treated him with hostility while in his employment, which he said caused him “immeasurable stress” and led him to fear he would suffer a stroke. He added that he felt he had only two options – fire Ramirez or close the bakery down entirely.
     But U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman ruled that Ramirez must be reinstated because the EEOC persuaded the court that her firing presents likelihood of irreparable harm, as without the bakery job Ramirez and her husband would be unable to pay their mortgage and keep their children in private Catholic school, and she would also lose her healthcare benefits.
     In addition, Freeman said, Ramirez’s firing might have a “chilling effect” on the bakery’s other employees.
     She said that she was “sensitive” to Peters’ health issues, but since he owns the bakery, his hours there are “wholly within his own control.”
     “While altering his hours so as to avoid Ms. Ramirez might inconvenience Mr. Peters, any such inconvenience is far outweighed by the irreparable harm that would be imposed on Ms. Ramirez if she were fired,” Freeman wrote.
     The judge also rejected Peters’ questioning why Ramirez would want to keep working at the bakery given the constant conflict between her and Peters, because “few people have the luxury to simply leave a job when there is conflict with the boss.”
     She limited the injunction to Ramirez’s termination-related claims, not to those relating to Peters’ alleged discipline and harassment.
     Neither side could be reached for comment.
     The EEOC is represented by William Tamayo, a staff attorney for the commission in San Francisco.
     Victoria Booke with Fahmy & Booke in San Jose represented the bakery.

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