Lawsuit: Waiter claims restaurant owner fired him for catching COVID-19

Tomukun Noodle Bar
Posted at 3:18 PM, Aug 29, 2020

(WXYZ) — A now former waiter filed a lawsuit Friday against an Ann Arbor restaurant claiming the owner fired him for contracting the novel coronavirus.

According to the lawsuit, Nicolas Prada, an assistant manager and waiter at Tomukun Noodle Bar, became ill around June 24 with COVID-19 symptoms.

Prada reported the illness to his manager and stayed home sick from work after subsequently testing positive for the virus on June 27, the lawsuit states.

On July 1, Tomukun Noodle Bar shared a Facebook post informing customers that an employee received a positive COVID-19 test result and that the restaurant would "close all services at Noodle Bar to ensure that all staff are allowed to get tests and quarantine safely, if necessary."

"To further ensure the safety of our staff and customers, we will conduct a professional cleaning of our restaurant and continue to adhere to safety protocols with the guidance of the Washtenaw Health Department and the CDC," the noodle bar continued in the post.

Prada claims he was refused "legally required sick leave compensation" during quarantine and fired after being interrogated "regarding the origin of his illness," according to the lawsuit.

Following his positive COVID-19 test, Prada was contacted by the Washtenaw County Health Department and ordered to self-quarantine for two weeks, which he claims he did.

On July 10, Prada texted his manager to request a return to work, saying: “I got an email from the Washtenaw Health Department that I should be good.”

On a 22-minute call the next day with the Noodle Bar owner, Yong Hum Yon, Yon allegedly accused Prada of the catching the virus at a party and said: “For PR reasons it would be best for you not to come back to work,” the lawsuit states.

Noah Hurwitz, Prada's attorney, says the restaurant violated the the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

According to the lawsuit, Prada is suing the restaurant for damages and lost income outlined as:

b. Award compensatory damages for monetary and non-monetary loss in whatever amount he is found to be entitled, including back and front pay, extreme mental and emotional distress, humiliation, outrage, economic damages, loss of employment opportunity, harm to reputation, loss of earning capacity, punitive damages, and any other damages available by law;

7 Action News reached out Tomukun Noodle Bar for comment, and we are awaiting a response.