Workers in S. Calif. Reportedly Fired for Fleeing Fire

May 9, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

Fired for fleeing fire? Strawberry pickers in California were fired for fleeing a fire in Camarillo last week. Some reports said the farm offered to re-hire them but the workers got other jobs.

The workers, who were employed with Crisalida Farms in Oxnard, decided to leave the fields after they began to breathe smoke, reported NBC LA. The fire, located around 11 miles north of where they were, began to rain ash on them as well. Their manager warned them they would be fired if they left the fields.

“Oh, yeah, the smoke was very bad. That’s no doubt about that,” Lauro Barrajas, with the United Farm Workers, told NBC. It was noted that air quality in the region was at dangerously low levels before they left. When they went back to work, their foreman fired them.

“No worker shall work under conditions where they feel his life or health is in danger,” Barrajas said.

But the farm said it was a misunderstanding.

“There was clearly a misunderstanding. These workers were not fired and we welcome them back on our farm,” Dave Murray at Crisalida Berry Farms told KEYT-TV.

The farm told NBC that they settled with the union to hire back the workers, but only one returned and the rest got jobs elsewhere.