Ambulance Employees Settle Suit Over Alleged Inadequate Protective Gear


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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Two ambulance company employees have settled a consolidated lawsuit in which they alleged they were wrongfully fired in 2020 for objecting to transporting coronavirus patients with inadequate protective gear.

The suits were originally filed separately in September 2020 in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Kaitlin Wilson and Rayan Melendez against Montebello-based Lifeline Ambulance.

Both plaintiffs alleged wrongful termination, discrimination and retaliation and their attorneys filed a notice of settlement on Friday with Judge Lia Martin, who consolidated the cases last July at the request of the parties. No terms were divulged.

In their court papers, Lifeline Ambulance attorneys denied any wrongdoing on the part of the company and said the plaintiffs were not entitled to damages.

Wilson began working at the firm in March 2019 as an emergency medical technician and in September 2019 was paired with Melendez, according to Wilson's suit. Like Melendez, her primary job duties included transporting patients between facilities and assessing them prior to and during transportation.

Wilson maintained she and Melendez protested the lack of fitted N95 masks, but were rebuffed in their requests to be given them. Wilson explained during a meeting in May 2020 that the CDC considered unfitted masks non- protective and that it was reasonable for her and Melendez to refuse to transport a coronavirus patient if they did not have safe protection.

In his court papers filed prior to the suit consolidation, Melendez said he was hired in July 2019 and that his primary job duties included moving patients between facilities and assessing patients prior to and during their transportation. He maintained Lifeline supplied him and his team with what the company deemed to be "one size fits all masks" that were actually "one size fits most."

Melendez said he tried on one such mask and determined it was too large for his face because there was a gap under his chin in which he could fit two fingers.

Melendez said Lifeline did not allow him or Wilson to try on a variety of N95 models to find the best fit and ensure patient and employee safety, putting the company out of CDC guidelines for COVID-19.

Wilson and Melendez were fired in May 2020 and the company accused both of engaging in harassing behavior, which the plaintiffs denied. Melendez and Wilson refused to sign paperwork acknowledging their firing, the Melendez suit stated.

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