Maria Rivas is on medication to treat her many ailments - diabetes, high cholesterol and thyroid disorder - which makes bladder control difficult. She said she was working at a Wendy’s in Santee, California, in October 2014 when her supervisors imposed a “no bathroom breaks” policy for a three-hour period during the lunch rush.
According to a claim Rivas and her attorney, Patrick Paschall, have filed with the state labor commissioner as a precursor to a lawsuit, Rivas repeatedly asked if she could use the restroom, but she was told she couldn’t leave her work station. After accidentally urinated on herself, Rivas was allegedly forced by her supervisor to keep working in her dirty clothes.
“He didn’t care, and none of the other managers cared to tell me, ‘Mari, go to your house and change,’” she told NBC San Diego in Spanish.
The Wendy’s manager confirmed a written version of events he gave to the restaurant’s attorneys, in which he said employees can’t move from their stations during the 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. lunch rush, unless it’s approved by an operation leader. He claimed he was unaware of Rivas’ accident until she mentioned it at the end of her shift.
Wendy’s HR director Donna Townsend said in an email that she couldn’t comment on the details of the case, but called the incident “an isolated situation involving one employee at one restaurant.
“Our franchise strives to provide a positive working environment for all employees. We promptly investigated complaints arising out of this situation and believe that is was handled appropriately. When an employee request to go to the bathroom, permission is granted, as it is here.”
Paschall said Wendy’s has offered several settlements but Rivas has refused them because they are unsufficent. Rivas is still an employee at the restaurant; she said she can’t afford to be unemployed and worries no one will hire her because of her age.
“I depend on this job,” she said. “I don’t have another one.”