Lexington County, SC (WLTX)- Twenty one people were fired after taking part in the Day Without Immigrants Protest.
The movement closed restaurants and shops across the country to show the contributions immigrants have on the American workforce.
Juvenito Quintana and 20 other all missed work on February 16th. The next day, they got a letter from Encore Boat Builders LLC in Lexington, saying they were being terminated for no show/ no call in.
Quintana says some employees got calls from management the day before telling them not to miss or else they'd lose their job. That's why he said a lot didn't call in, for fear.
Most of the employees had been working there for years and have small children. Quintana is a permanent resident and feels like the termination was unfair.
News19 reached out to Encore Boat Builders on Friday but the company had no comment at the time. On Monday, we called them again, and they said the employees accounted for about 20 percent of their workforce. They're now looking to hire their replacements. .
They said this was all done following protocol: if someone doesn't call in, they can get fired.
Melissa Burnette is an employment attorney. and says South Carolina is a Right To Work state where employers can make those kinds of decisions.
"Some employers are more supportive and would not have terminated the employees but some employers have the right to do that" she said.
It's important for employees to understand their rights to protest like wearing t-shirts or posting flyers if it doesn't interfere with the business operations, Burnette said. But they also need to understand their responsibilities like being expected to show up to work.
The families are now looking for other jobs and they pick up their last checks on Friday.