A produce supplier is being sued by its former CFO, who alleges he was fired for exposing health and safety violations.

Jeffrey Thoreson filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Los Angeles-based 4Earth Farms Inc., formerly known as MCL Fresh Inc., alleging wrongful termination, state Labor Code violations, breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He’s seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

A 4Earth Farms representative did not reply to a request for comment.

According to the lawsuit filed Friday, Thoreson was hired by the company in September 1998 as a controller and rose through the ranks to become CFO. Thoreson says he was instrumental in contributing to the growth of the company, which had about 15 employees when he started and 300 when he was fired last year.

In 2012, Thoreson began to “suspect and notice health and safety violations” related to the company’s handling of produce, the suit alleges. He claims he also became aware of “unauthorized activities related to their products, equipment, marketing, policies, procedures and personnel.”

“His concerns included organic compliance failure, food safety violations, including positive results of contamination that were falsified and hidden for distribution to nationwide stores,” according to the lawsuit.

False records were submitted to county Department of Health as well as to such clients as Costco, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, the lawsuit alleges. Thoreson says he also was bothered by the “hiring and rehiring of undocumented employees.”

Thoreson alleges he raised his concerns with management, but was told to not document anything “for fear of future liability” and that “sales took priority.”

Thoreson continued to address the alleged problems, but in response the company reduced his salary and benefits, according to his lawsuit. Last June, he was fired after being told, “We don’t think you’re happy here anymore,” the suit says.

City News Service

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.