Whole Foods accused of hostile work environment

Michelle Massey Nov. 4, 2010, 1:52pm

Former Whole Foods employee Chianti Jones is suing the grocery chaing claiming she lost her job for complaining about sexual harassment.

Claiming violations of her civil rights, Chianti M. Jones filed a lawsuit against Whole Food Company Inc. d/b/a Whole Foods Market on Oct. 29 in federal court in New Orleans.

Jones was hired by Whole Foods on Oct. 28, 2008 and worked at the location in Metairie. She states that during her employment, that a manager made direct and indirect inappropriate sexual advances. Jones states she made it clear the advances were unwelcome.

She claims the alleged harassment and retaliation for her complaints forced her to take a leave of absence from Feb. 17 through May 11. Upon her return from leave, Jones states the retaliation became worse.

Jones claims she overheard a telephone conversation in which her supervisor stated he would have her terminated. She lost her job four days later.

In the suit, Jones claims she was terminated in retaliation for complaining about the sexually harassing conduct and for complaining about management's lack of response when a customer referred to her in a racially derogatory manner.

She is seeking damages for lost earnings including back pay, interest, bonuses, pension and lost benefits, front pay, pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of reputation, embarrassment, humiliation, punitive damages, court costs and attorney's fees.

Jones is represented by New Orleans attorneys James L. Arruebarrena, Victor R. Farrugia and Rachel Martin-Decklemann. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Ivan L. R. Lemelle is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10-cv-04148

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