A complaint filed in U.S. District Court by seven ex-employees of Neawanna by the Sea, alleges that operators of the Seaside assisted living facility committed several wrongful acts.
Filed in mid-September, the complaint alleges that Neawanna managers engaged in wage theft, neglected and abused residents, ignored unsanitary conditions and discriminated against employees, including unlawfully terminating them because of their whistleblowing activities.
The plaintiffs — Wesley Cordova, a former cook; Elodia Gonzalez, a former caregiver; Lynzee Johnson, a former medical technician; Kylee Lunsford, a former medical technician; Amy Patterson, a former medical technician; Matthew Perry, a former dishwasher; and Michealyn Schroeder, a former resident services director — have retained lawyer Michael Ross, of Slater Ross Attorneys in Portland. Slater is handling the allegations as a single claim against Neawanna’s head office, Westmont Living in La Jolla, Calif.
Seattle-based lawyer David Silke, of Gordon & Rees LLP, is representing Westmont Living.
The employees first made their concerns known in August when they picketed outside the facility on North Wahanna Road and Broadway. After contacting several agencies, including the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, the Clatsop County Department of Health and the state Office of Licensing and Regulatory Oversight, they retained Ross.
According to court documents, the seven are seeking economic damages for their lost wages and the interest owed on them; statutory penalties and liquidated damages; noneconomic damages of $100,000 per plaintiff; nonmonetary relief (for example, being reinstated in their jobs); and recovery of legal fees.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries is actively investigating the group’s civil rights complaints against Neawanna, Charlie Burr, the bureau’s communications director, confirmed last week.
In sworn affidavits, the employees allege that Neawanna managers discriminated against employees based on race, age and sex; allowed sexual harassment to take place; and created a hostile work environment.
Adult Protective Services is also looking into the group’s concerns but would not comment on the case.
Westmont Living, which has launched an internal investigation into Neawanna’s practices, declined to comment.