A Hawthorne woman who sued Staples the Office Superstore, alleging she was forced to quit earlier this year because the Venice location where she worked was infested with rats, has dropped her lawsuit.
A lawyer for plaintiff Ashley Carlyle filed court papers on Monday with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Sotelo asking that Carlyle’s case be dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning it can’t be refiled. The court papers did not state if a settlement was reached or if Carlyle was not pursuing the case for other reasons. In June, the judge had put the discovery in the case on hold while the parties engaged in mediation.
Carlyle’s allegations included wrongful termination, harassment, whistleblower retaliation, disability discrimination and violations of the state Labor Code. She was hired last Oct. 26 as a retail associate at the store on Lincoln Boulevard and soon promoted to operations manager, overseeing office supplies, cashiering and truck loading, the suit stated.
Carlyle quickly began getting red spots on her ankles and the week after she was hired, a customer told her a rat had run under the shopping carts, the suit filed March 7 stated. The next day the plaintiff saw a rat scoot across two aisles and into a hole in the wall, but when she reported it her manager said in response, “It must have come from outside,” the suit stated.
Some of Carlye’s associates allegedly told her rats had been a problem there for years and that the situation was getting worse.
When Carlyle told several managers about rat droppings in the stock room, they said traps were laid, but the plaintiff saw few of the larger rodents being caught, the suit stated. She began feeling sick with nausea and headaches and one day almost vomited, the suit stated.
In December, a fed-up Carlyle contacted Cal/OSHA anonymously in order to protect her job and after she described the rodent problem, agency officials said they would investigate, the suit stated.
When Carlyle refused to clean up rat droppings in January because it was not part of her job, the store’s general manager told her she should quit “if this isn’t the job for her,” according to the suit.
Carlyle was demoted to price auditor, allegedly because of her complaints, and she went on leave on Jan. 11, the suit stated. Eight days later, she notified her general manager that she would not return because of the alleged rat infestation.
A human resources representative confirmed Carlye’s firing in a letter sent to her on Feb. 22, according to the suit.
Through the final days of Carlyle’s employment, she would be covered in rat droppings when pulling items off the shelves, the suit alleged.
Carlyle has suffered emotional pain and a decline in her physical health because of the work conditions at Staples, the suit alleged.