Three former Fiesta Tortillas employees seek awards in civil action lawsuit

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Three former employees of Ixpalia, Inc. business Fiesta Tortillas seek exemplary damages in a lawsuit alleging employment, sex and race discrimination against the company.

Mirna Rodriguez, Irene Hernandez, and Perla Hernandez are foreign-born Hispanic women who each worked for Fiesta Tortillas, a tortilla and chip factory in south Austin.

The exterior of Fiesta Tortilla’s factory located in south Austin.

The three plaintiffs filed a civil action lawsuit against the business on Tuesday, August 27.

The plaintiffs allege in their lawsuit that throughout their employment they were “subjected to an objectively hostile and abusive work environment on account of their sex and race, national origin, and/or alienage.”

Also, the plaintiffs allege they all were “terminated in retaliation for expressing opposition to what they reasonably believed to be discriminatory harassment based on their protected characteristics.”

The plaintiff’s lawyers allege all three women were “mocked and yelled at during their shifts and called ‘whores’ and ‘prostitutes’ by supervisors.”

The women allege the defendant fired them when they opposed the “discriminatory treatment,” and are demanding a trial by jury on all claims.

Relief sought from plaintiffs:

  • Declare defendant Ixpalia, Inc., in violation of Title VII, Chapter 21, and Section 1981
  • Award damages to plaintiffs, including back pay, front pay or reinstatement, and compensatory and punitive damages
  • Award plaintiffs the costs of this action
  • Award plaintiffs reasonable attorney’s fees
  • Award plaintiffs pre-judgment and post-judgment interest
  • Grant such other relief as this court deems just and proper

According to the lawsuit, the women allege they worked in a “deplorable environment with long shifts, limited breaks, unsafe conditions, excessive heat and without regular access to drinking water.”

The company was cited for “several serious safety and health violations by OSHA during the relevant time period, and plaintiffs were told not to talk to authorities,” the plaintiff’s lawyers said.

The plaintiffs claim when they posted on social media about the poor working conditions at the factory they were threatened with legal action by the company.

KXAN News has reached out to both Fiesta Tortillas and the lawyers representing the plaintiffs for comment and have not heard back yet.

On Thursday afternoon, The Equal Justice Center, which is representing the women, said to KXAN: “The discriminatory conditions under which they allege that they worked are detailed in the Complaint. Illegal discrimination against immigrant workers, and especially immigrant women, is a common problem in workplaces around the country. We are proud to represent these brave women to seek justice for their treatment, and send the message that employers cannot exploit their workers with impunity.”

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