NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A West Haven woman claims she was fired for speaking out in favor of workers’ rights. Today, supporters protested in front of the visiting nurse office where she used to work.
Claudina Lara is an experienced visiting nurse who was making ten dollars an hour. She says she was punished for taking time off to have surgery. She spoke out about that experience at previous press conferences held by a working families organization, and now she says speaking the truth got her fired.
Lara was fired by Family Care VNA on Wednesday. She is a home health care nurse, caring for patients who need help bathing, cooking or any number of household duties. Then she, herself, had medical problems and was forced to take some days off. She says her bosses punished her for that
“They would have the habit of giving me a certain amount of hours,” said Lara. “As soon as I said I had to be off for surgery, they would pull the patients away from me, bringing me from 54 hours down to 14 hours.”
She was only making $10 an hour, so that meant going from $540 a week to $140. Dina said she was getting passed over for raises in favor of less-experienced nurses. That is when she started working with the Connecticut Working Families organization, speaking at press conferences, and even appearing in a book that promoted worker rights. She says her association with the group is why she was let go.
“I was bashed because I’m working with Working Families to get equality and a fair workplace,” Lara said.
Ana Maria Rivera, the political director of the Working Families Organization of Connecticut, helped organize the rally outside the New Haven office where Lara used to work. “There’s something morally reprehensible with firing a worker that dares to stand up and say there should be dignity in the workplace,” Rivera said.
Lara told News8 that Family Care VNA told her she was fired for “Bashing the company.” News8 asked her if she was “bashing the company.”
“No, I was expressing what they were doing to me, and what was unfair to me,” Lara said. “I was telling the truth, and if telling the truth is so wrong, then I don’t know what else to say.”
Family Care VNA apparently did not know what to say, either. When a News8 reporter walked into the office in New Haven where Lara used to work and politely asked for a comment, the door was literally slammed in that reporter’s face.