by Ian Froeb
During her employment, Plaintiff observed that Whole Foods - Galleria was allowing and permitting the handling of produce products in a manner that was unsanitary, and that compromised the organic labeling of produce for sale and specifically violated the regulations set forth above in that Plaintiff observed co-mingling of organic and conventional produce, the improper sanitization of sinks and display crates, as well as the presence of mold on the display shelving.Reached for comment, Gourley referred Gut Check to Whole Foods Market's regional office in Chicago, where a spokesperson declined to comment because the issue is an ongoing legal matter.
Plaintiff brought the above violations to the attention of Whole Foods and Defendant Gourley by speaking out about the violations during store meetings, discussing the violations with her direct superiors and emailing and mailing letters to regional Whole Foods supervisors and executives. ...As such, Plaintiff was a whistle-blower under Missouri law.
A few days after sending this letter, Whole Foods began a series of meetings and disciplinary actions aimed at terminating Plaintiff in retaliation for her actions at disclosing to Whole Foods management the aforesaid violations of the Act, Regulations and local ordinances.
On or about August 30, 2010, Defendants terminated as a direct result of her whistle blowing activities as described above. As such, Plaintiff's termination violates the public policy of the United States and the State of Missouri.
Hi, Kate from Whole Foods Market here. We can't get into specifics here, but we'd like to communicate that we feel extremely confident about the systems we have in place to protect the integrity of our organic offerings. We were the first national retailer to become voluntarily certified organic under the USDA's National Organic Program, and each of our U.S. stores is inspected and certified each year by a USDA-accredited organic certifier, CCOF. Their inspectors review each department in our stores in order to ensure that our organic products are purchased, handled and sold with integrity. They also verify that our Team Members are well trained in organic food handling requirements. We continue to work closely with the USDA and the organic community to ensure that the organic standards remain strong and consistent with our shoppers' expectations. Our company's strong support of organic practices and standards is a core value of our business, and we take the organic certification of each of our stores very seriously. It is expected that Team Members bring any potential practices out of the norm to their team leader's attention.