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El Monte Lifeguards Fired Over ‘Gangnam Style’ Video Remake

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EL MONTE (CBSLA.com) — What was supposed to be a fun, cheeky remake of a Korean pop music video that’s gone viral has gotten more than a dozen El Monte city lifeguards fired.

The video, uploaded to YouTube, shows lifeguards at the El Monte Aquatic Center in uniform, making its own version of “Gangnam Style,” a Korean pop song by Psy.

The original song and its music video, which references the affluent district of Gangnam in Seoul, have gone viral, drawing countless remakes and reactions on YouTube.

The video was “created as a sort of ‘Lifeguard Style’ variation and uploaded to YouTube,” according to Alexander Huerta, who was fired from his position of instructor guard.

He claims the video filmed at the aquatic center was done while off duty and off the clock.

Huerta says he and 13 fellow aquatic center workers were called in to a meeting Wednesday and told their services were no longer needed.

“We just felt it was really unfair and not really grounds for termination,” he said.

Fired lifeguard Daniel Surmenian had the same belief.

“I thought maybe a write up or a suspension, not that I would be asked to leave,” he said.

Michael Roa said the workers uploaded the video on YouTube to only share with each other.

“We never thought there would be negative repercussions to it,“ said Roa.

Huerta, who has worked at the aquatic center for the past seven years, said he didn’t realize he was going to be featured in the video and that his image was used for just a “quick second.”

“I saw they were filming, but I didn’t know I was going to be in it,” Huerta said.

Robert Alaniz, a spokesman for the city of El Monte, released this statement in regards to the termination of 13 part-time seasonal lifeguards and a pool manager:

“While the City of El Monte cannot comment on the specifics of this situation because it involves personnel issues, we can say that each of the employees dismissed were either part-time and/or seasonal at-will employees, who upon their employment, were each required to acknowledge and sign an Acknowledgement that states that they would ‘under no circumstances use any city property for his/her own private use or benefit. Such unauthorized use shall be cause for disciplinary action.’

There was a clear unauthorized use of city resources and property, including the use of city-issued uniforms during the making of this unauthorized video. The City maintains that it holds all employees to a higher standard.”

The fired lifeguards plan to petition the city for their jobs back at the next city council meeting.

Meantime, they’ve launched a Facebook page titled, “Bring Back The El Monte Aquatic Center 14.”

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