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14 El Monte Lifeguards Appeal to City for Jobs After Gangnam Style Parody Causes Termination

Official seal of City of El Monte

What was meant to be a parody video of the latest pop culture sensation, “Gangnam Style” by Korean Rapper Psy, has left 14 El Monte lifeguards without jobs.

The 14 life guards, employed by the city of El Monte, say they used break time to film their spoof, but the city of El Monte issued a statement the terminations occurred because there was “a clear unauthorized use of city-issued uniforms during the making of this unauthorized video.”

The fired lifeguards have since appealed to the El Monte city council to be re-hired, but this has turned out to be a fruitless endeavor. El Monte town hall had been packed with 250 people showing support for the terminated life guards.

“The punishment doesn’t fit the crime,” said fired lifeguard Michael Roa, “termination should have been the last plan of action, but it was the only action taken.”

The spoof of the viral video and subsequent terminations has caused such a controversy in the city that Mayor Andre Quintero has asked for an independent review of the situation. Once the independent review is complete, the decision on whether or not the lifeguards should be reinstated will lie with the city manager, Quintero has said.

Roa and his co-workers, college age students some of whom have spent several years working as life guards, have received multiple offers of legal representation and an outpouring of support from the public. A Facebook page has been created for the fired lifeguards, and Korean rapper Psy has even made a heartfelt plea to the city of El Monte to not fire the lifeguards.

As of yet, after several town hall meetings and an independent investigation, the 14 life guards have no been reinstated. The issue at hand is whether the lifeguards, who are at-will seasonal and part-time employees, whether the city was within its legal rights to fire the lifeguard or if the lifeguards were wrongfully terminated from their posts and if their due process rights had been violated. According to Roa, the lifeguards were only asked to read portions of the lifeguard manual before they were fired, and have had no chance to appeal.

In tough economic times losing your job can cause harsh financial problems for former employees, and may cause difficulty in seeking future employment. It is important to make sure those representing you an any legal dispute are well versed on current employment law and have experience handling employment disputes successfully. The attorneys at Le, Clark & Ho, LLP in Orange County and Riverside County, are well qualified to represent both employers and employees in labor or employment disputes.

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