Long Beach pharmacy settles lawsuit with former employee

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A former shipping clerk at a Long Beach pharmacy settled her lawsuit against the store in which she alleged she was wrongfully fired in 2020 in part for complaining about not getting fully paid for a leave she took after getting a fever during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jennifer Smith’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against Benzer Pharmacy alleged whistleblower retaliation, wrongful termination, retaliation and failure to provide required rest breaks. She sought unspecified damages in the suit filed last July 15.

Smith’s attorney, Aubry Wand, filed court papers Feb. 5 stating that the case was resolved. No terms were divulged.

Smith was hired by Benzer in October 2019 and performed her job well, the suit states. She came down with a fever in late March 2020 and her doctor told her to stay home until April 4, according to the complaint.

Smith believed she qualified for Families First Coronavirus Response Act sick leave, so she notified a Benzer human resources representative, who told her the request would be submitted to payroll, the suit stated.

But management later told her she would only be paid for days missed after April 1, so she complained in an email to the human resources manager, but never received a reply, the suit stated.

Smith returned to work on April 14 and discovered a customer had received a prescription actually intended for another patron, the suit stated.

“Plaintiff was not in any way responsible for sending the wrong medication or this privacy breach,” the suit stated.

Smith was fired a few days later after being told she had her time records falsified by 15 minutes on a day she acknowledges she forgot to clock out while rushing to board a bus, the suit states. She realized her mistake later and texted the pharmacist on duty, who refused her request to clock her out, the suit stated.

“Plaintiff was in shock that she was being fired for this,” according to the suit, which further states that the actual reasons for her dismissal were her complaints about not getting fully paid for her FFCRA leave and the alleged privacy violation regarding the prescription mix-up.

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