Whole Foods has a wholesome reputation. If you can swallow the prices, you're in for some farm-fresh goodness.
But one Southern California company isn't so fresh when it comes to the treatment of its workers. At least that's the allegation in a lawsuit against Millennium Products, maker of the GT's Kombucha and Synergy Drinks.
The 2013 filing, which is still in court, claims that local workers “were physically locked in the company's warehouse and prevented from leaving during work hours,” according to an attorney's statement:
As you can probably guess by now, one of the key retailers for the beverage maker is the one and only Whole Foods. And so, workers decrying those alleged conditions at the Millennium Products plant in Vernon, a little industrial city just southeast of downtown, will be protesting at the Beverly Hills Whole Foods today.
According to an attorney's summary of the workers' claims:
Working conditions were so bad that when state health inspectors came to the facilities, employees were herded into a large room so that the inspectors would not see the number of employees or the conditions that they worked under.
Workers who were injured on the job were fired or forced to quit.
Workers who arrived late were sometimes forced to work entire shifts without compensation.
Workers were required to work up to 20 hours per day, five to six days per week without being properly paid overtime, or being given meal or rest breaks.
The Millennium Products folks seemed surprised by news of the demonstration and had no comment for us. A representative for Whole Foods told us only this:
We are working diligently to gather additional information regarding this matter and we will follow up with you once we learn more.
A spokesman for the attorney who represents workers said as many as 20 “former employees” of the GT's Kombucha maker were expected at the 1 p.m. event.
Bring refreshments. It's going to be hot.
[Update at 1:26 p.m.]: Millennium founder at CEO “GT Dave” sent us this response today:
Since 1995 we have prided ourselves on building a company where every individual at every level is treated like family. We believe firmly in the fair and equitable treatment of all persons who work with us, and we work tirelessly to ensure our growing family is provided with a healthy, safe and happy environment. While we appreciate an individual's right to demonstrate peacefully and lawfully, we refute any basis for this demonstration and vigorously deny the allegations brought forth in the lawsuit and eagerly look forward to being vindicated in the courtroom. We otherwise are unable to comment further about the particulars of the ongoing litigation.
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