Former Vlasic Employee Sues Company for Wrongful Termination

By on January 25, 2013

A former Vlasic pickle and wet brands food scientist and director for Pinnacle Foods Group LLC claims in a lawsuit that he was fired by Pinnacle for challenging quality control, labeling problems and bogus financial figures.  Specifically, he claims that superiors rebuked him when he made complaints and he was taken off projects after claiming that millions of pounds of baby whole pickles were expired, and suggesting alternative cost savings after discovering that Pinnacle had been using significantly less product (including pickles and pie filling) compared to its specifications and labels.  He also claims that labels for Pinnacle syrup products understated their calories and proposed labels for another Farmer’s Garden product indicated it was “All Natural,” despite synthetic ingredients that would also require sulfite warnings.  Pinnacle has declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Whistleblower allegations have gained more attention in recent years, particularly in the wake of the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act that provides for whistleblowers of securities law violations to receive up to 1/3 reward of the money recovered from a Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement action.  Although the Pinnacle lawsuit is in the context of an action for wrongful termination rather than an actual whistleblower submission to the government or a False Claims Act lawsuit for defrauding the government, certain protections are also in place under Dodd-Frank and other whistleblower laws to protect those who have the courage to come forward from wrongful terminations.  These whistleblower protections, as well as the anonymity provision in Dodd-Frank that allows a whistleblower to remain anonymous and be represented by an attorney when making their submission to the SEC, should encourage more people to come forward when they witness violations of law by their employer or another company.