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Whole Foods sued for sexual harassment and hostile work environment

Chianti Jones, a former employee who worked in the Prepared Foods section of the Whole Foods Market store in Metairie, Louisiana, filed a sexual harassmenthostile work environmentrace discrimination, and retaliation lawsuit against the company on October 29, 2010.

Jones claims that her immediate supervisor, Matthew Alexander, made inappropriate sexual advances toward Jones on an ongoing basis beginning in July 2009. 

According to the complaint, “Jones made it clear to Mr. Alexander that she was not interested in dating him, that his advances were unwelcome and that it was against Whole Foods’ policy for team members to date.”

Despite constantly telling Alexander that she was not interested in his sexual advances, and even threatening to report Alexander’s sexually offensive behavior to management, she continued to be sexually harassed by Alexander.

On March 2, 2010, Jones filed an official complaint with the EEOC.   Jones alleges that the harassment and retaliation became worse.

Jones claims that she was approached by James Cook, the Assistant Store Team Leader, and told that he was written up because of her and that he could have lost his job.  Cook told Jones that because of her, Alexander was being transferred to the Arabella Station store.

On June 6, 2010, Jones overheard a conversation where Cook stated that Jones was disrespectful and that he was going to do everything in his power to have her terminated because she is the reason he received a final warning.

According to the complaint, Jones was terminated on June 11, 2010 “in retaliation for complaining about Mr. Alexander’s sexually harassing conduct and for complaining about management’s lack of response when a customer called her a ‘stupid ass nigger.’”

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Whole Foods sued for sexual harassment and hostile work environment
2 votes, 5.00 avg. rating (99% score)
  • Scott

    I had a similar situation at Whole Foods.
    I complained that my Team Leader was trying to get me fired after I refused to have a intimate relationship with her outside of work. When I alerted store leadership, on several occasions, I was rebuffed. Store leadership then started to retaliate for my having reported my Team Leader.

    I quit March,2010. I also filed a complaint with the EEOC and am awaiting the results of their investigation.

  • WLL

    More former and current Whole Foods Market Team Members need to come forward with these issues.
    Store Leadership at WFMs are HUGE on retaliating against Team Members who try to stick up for their rights. It is a totally hostile and retaliatory environment. Store leadership at my store would make little side deals (promotions, wage increases, etc) with Team Members who helped squelch those who came forward with workers rights issues. TMs were and still are encouraged to lie about others to save their own jobs. Horrible horrible company. This filters down from the top. John Mackey CEO promotes this kind of behavior.
    It is unbelievable to me that WFM is supposed to be one of the top 100 companies to work for. They are no better than Walmart. In fact, they are worse. They pretend to be an employee friendly company. Anything but!
    They will never get another dime of my money.

  • Anon

    I fully support and I am also filing charges with the NATL, EEOC and Attorney General Office here in NYC. I will sue for Sexual Discrimination, Aggravated Harrassment, Age Discrimination, Religious Discrimination, and my Retaliation charge will be files with the State Attorney’s office as well as the EEOC.
    Also, I will file charges against WHOLE FOODS MARKET tomorrow at the National Labor Relations Board located at Federal Plaza. I plan to sue for no less than $250,000.00 for Punitive Damages plus all legal fees etc etc….and I will take my case to the PRESS and in fact already did and they are working BIG TIME on it with me before we go on the AIR!!!!! Have to have my hair done first my lovees. What a shame to have so many lovely peers on FOOD STAMPS while they work so hard for Whole Foods and its CEO boasts about his billions and saving the trees. HELP YOUR EMPLOYEES first!!! ALL EMPLOYEES need to come out or you will acquire absolutely NO RESPECT in the business world and these govt agencies are confidential and FREE of charge. GET OVER TO THEM because you will eventually be fired!!! Read about all the law suits against WFM and these are but a few in the Internet because not all cases and in fact very few go to the Intenet but they are filed in LEGAL Software programs. Fortunately, I have the means to live well and took this job as a local p/t position to enjoy few nights a week before I transition into Full Retirement in few yrs…so I fight for the people thinking they have no voice! Chill out – it is only a grocery store folks – not exactly WALL STREET. Most of the managers who harrass you have NO COLLEGE background and No SUCCESSFUL career experience to boot. So chill out and keep chin uy and FILE YOUR COMPLAINTS instead of miserating about them. You are ALL responsible at WFM to do so and to SUPPORT the cases before you of your peers. VOTE “YES” for UNIONS to PROTECT you at WORK.

  • Barbara

    My daughter quit one of the WF stores in Boulder after working there for seven years. She was being approached by a fellow co-worker in the cooler & back alley – unwanted touching, thrusting from behind, kissing her neck, etc. When she finally had the courage to report it, the store “Team Leader” (what a joke) told her there was no proof since it was not on camera.
    I’m debating what to do. She doesn’t want to take action which I understand is very typical for a woman. She thinks she can put it behind her!
    I’m so pissed off.

  • Anon

    How can you even THINK about Whole Foods Market when you have TRADER JOES, EATALY which sells REAL ORGANIC MEATS and of BEST QUALITY!!!, DEAN & DELUCCA, GARDEN of EDEN, CITARELLA, WESTSIDE MARKET PLACE (14th & 7th Ave)which is AMAZING, and SO MANY, MANY more such places. BED BATH & BEYOND sells *all* of the CLEANING products Whole Foods sells and MORE!!!! Whole Foods prepared foods tastes awful!!!! Try the Prepared foods at the above stores I mentioned and they are all REAL gourmet foods from TOP Chefs and FRESH!!! And DELICIOUS!!!!!

  • SL

    Whole foods Oakland has lot of retaliation and a high turnover people there is a lot retaliation on the schedules and also they play favorites. If you complain then they start attacking you trying to make your job harder so you will quit. The worst company ever Wellness and Happiness one of the core values is a false.

  • PS

    I also am A current employee at Oakland Whole Foods and being in food service for almost 20 years I have never seen and have been put through the discimination and unfairness and seen soo many food dangers.IT all starts from the top with the store teamleader neglecting his job.There is no trainning for food safty or properly cooking food. The rule of organics is thrown out the window.Some supervisors are room mates and close friends with co workers. If you stand up to correct your supervisor “YOU WILL BE SET UP”! I have seen it and lived it for over five years. Im kind of terrified to go back.I have had sleepless nights and a nervous condition working there..Wellness and employee happyiness one of the core values are fake..

  • Scott

    If you are a current Whole Foods employee try and start your own union. You don’t need help from any outside organization. You don’t need to pay dues. You can start a Whole Foods employees only union.

    Talk to your co-workers. You are protected. Make sure to document when you are retaliated against. You likely will be, but if you keep good records you will have legal recourse.

    Stop letting Whole Foods Market violate it’s employees rights under the law. The employees are what made Whole Foods.

    Remember not every terrible thing that Whole Foods does is illegal. Learn the protected categories. Learn your State’s laws. Learn the Federal laws. Use this to improve your working environment, and the working environment of your fellow co-workers.