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Ex-employees of Wellspring Lutheran Services sue over COVID-related firings

 Two Wellspring Lutheran Services employees are claiming they were fired because they tested positive for coronavirus.
Two Wellspring Lutheran Services employees are claiming they were fired because they tested positive for coronavirus. (WJRT)
Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 5:09 PM EDT
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(6/17/2020) - Two health care workers from Wellspring Lutheran Services are suing their former boss, claiming they were fired after testing positive for the virus.

The company owns assisted living facilities in Frankenmuth and Saginaw Township. Both have been hit hard by COVID-19.

The women's attorney argues both terminations are blatant violations of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's order to hold employees harmless for coronavirus-related illnesses.

Karen Barcalow had worked for Wellspring's Saginaw Township location since 2004, according to her attorney, Victor Mastromarco Jr.

A federal lawsuit states she had symptoms of COVID-19, tested positive and was granted a Family Medical Leave Act request in early April for 12 weeks.

But only six weeks later, she was notified that because she failed to show up for three scheduled COVID-19 tests at work to support her reason for being off, Wellspring determined she had voluntarily resigned.

"It seems like its so blatant in the violations of both the governor's orders and FMLA, so you have to believe its intentional," Mastromarco said.

One of Whitmer's executive orders protects employees who miss work because they fear they may spread the virus.

Mastromarco also represents Lataysha Whitson, who claims she worked at Wellspring and tested positive for COVID-19 on April 19. But when she called her employer in early May to say she was feeling better and wanted to return to work, Wellspring fired her for being a "no call, no show."

"They had the symptoms, they were doing what their doctors told them to do and they fired them anyway," Mastromarco said.

The state's COVID-19 website shows Wellspring Lutheran Services in Saginaw County has had 62 residents test positive for COVID-19 and 28 have died. In addition, 28 staff members have tested positive for the virus.

A spokesman for Wellspring said on Wednesday that they don't comment on employee related matters..

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