Gilroy postal worker fired after family member dies of coronavirus

A South Bay woman believes she was fired from her job with the postal service because her family member died of COVID-19.

“I really enjoy it, you know. I had a lot of fun… you know meeting new people and learning about the system,” said Ria Silva, who goes by the name, Jaz.

But a month into a new job at the U.S. Post office location in Gilroy came to a sudden and abrupt end back in March when she was called into her supervisor’s office.

“Basically he was like who’s this? And I said it’s my wife, why? And then he showed me the article,” Silva describes.

The article, Silva recalls, featured her wife, Stacey talking about losing her father, Gary Young, to COVID-19 days before her encounter with her supervisor.

Silva says her manager sent her home and later that day was contacted by a nurse, who evaluated her for symptoms.

She says despite none being found, she was fired a week later even though she’d never had previous issues at work such as a warning or a write-up.

“There was no apology… any sorry for your loss… there was no you know I’m sorry you’re going through this… nothing you now nothing. Never at one point did I ever receive any of that from him. Not a word of that. It was just you’re being selfish; you’re being reckless,” Silva said. 

Silva says that when her father-in-law passed away, she was in daily contact with health department officials who monitored for COVID-19 symptoms and got the all-clear, which is why she never thought to inform her superiors at the postal service.

Since the incident took place, Silva has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and hired an attorney to get her job back.

“They didn’t even ask if she had been around him and in the article, it clearly shows that she wasn’t allowed to be around… no one was at the time, said Jesse Danoff of the Mitchell Law Firm & Silva’s attorney.

When contacted for comment, a statement from the United States Postal Service read: “If this is an active EEOC case, we cannot discuss personnel matters due to privacy concerns,” said spokesperson Augustine ‘Augie’ Ruiz.

Silva said that she believes her sexual orientation played a role in the firing and that while she wants her job back so she can contribute to her household, she would prefer to be transferred to another location out of fear of retaliation.