October 19, 2019

OSHA Sues Whole Foods Market for Firing Whistleblower

Ever since the movies “Norma Rae” and “Erin Brockovitch”, whistle-blowers have been in the public consciousness. Although there are laws in place to keep corporations on the straight and narrow when dealing with the public and developing consumer products, the government can’t be all places all the time. Whistle-blowers have played an important part in revealing problems in corporate America and helping protect consumers.

Gavel Food Safety LegislationOSHA filed a lawsuit against Whole Foods Market in December 2011 under the Food Safety Modernization Act.  The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In this case, in 2009 a Whole Foods employee was alarmed to see a ruptured sewer line spill into a store, including the retail area.

Management did not take action, so the employee called Whole Foods tipline, then told a manager about his concerns. Four days later, that employee was fired for “what the company alleged ‘making false and malicious statements regarding the company not taking any steps to redress the sewage contamination at the workplace.’”

There are whistle-blower protection statutes codified into law in the United States. Employees are allowed to seek an OSHA inspection, report a work-related injury, fatality, or illness, and report violations of consumer product laws. Section 402 of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act deals specifically with food related issues and concerns.

If you are an employee who has observed conditions in the workplace that may adversely affect consumers or a consumer product, contact our Tipline and OSHA.


  1. Susan Beech says

    It’s upsetting when employees are retaliated against for trying to hold up health and safety standards.

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