LOS ANGELES, Jan. 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — A man who worked at a Southern California Whole Foods store says he was terminated after raising public safety concerns, which included but weren’t limited to, the existence of cockroaches in the kitchen where food is prepared for the public.
Michael Orellana began his career with Whole Foods in Tarzana, Calif., in 2012, first as a runner. By 2013, he had been moved into a new role as a catering specialist.
It was there that the 33-year-old says he frequently observed cockroaches in the kitchen and gnats on vegetables and in food holding areas.
Orellana says complained to Amine Azetta, who was his direct manager, and store manager Robert Thompson that this violated health codes and was told it would be looked into but nothing was done.
In fact, as he explains, he was even instructed to use produce from the compost pile to prepare food before using fresh produce to save money. Orellana says he was even told to prepare expired frozen pizzas for the “hot bar.” Though he frequently complained, he says he was repeatedly instructed by Azetta to use food from the compost pile.
On May 1, 2017, shortly after Orellana made a health and safety complaint of illegality to Whole Foods, he was terminated from his position.
Orellana, who is represented by Los Angeles-based employee rights law firm Shegerian & Associates, has filed suit, alleging claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, among others.
“The retaliation Orellana sustained after raising health and safety violations is deeply unsettling,” said Carney Shegerian, the founder of Shegerian & Associates.
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