Michelle Keahey Dec. 20, 2013, 6:58am

NEW ORLEANS - A branch manager has filed a lawsuit claiming he was fired for complaining about his employer’s lack of refrigeration space and being told to place refrigerated food in ambient warehouse space.

Jody Matherne filed suit against Armour-Eckrich Meats, John Morrell & Co. and Smithfield Foods Inc. on Dec. 17 in federal court in New Orleans.

Matherne was hired by the defendant on June 29, 2009 as a branch manager. According to the lawsuit, the AEM Hammond facility did not have storage space for frozen and refrigerated food. Matherne discussed with his supervisors about the storage deficiencies and the violation of law regarding rotating goods between the refrigerated space and the ambient warehouse space.

“Plaintiff was terminated by AEM because of his continued objections to his supervisors regarding the deplorable state of refrigerated/frozen food storage and delivery at and from the AEM Hammond facility and his numerous disclosures to DHH of unresolved violations of law both actual and threatened,” the lawsuit states.

The defendants are accused of wrongfully terminating Matherne for engaging in activity protected by Louisiana’s Employee Protection from Reprisal Statute.

The plaintiff is seeking an award of damages for mental anguish, emotional distress, back pay, triple damages, benefits, attorney’s fees, and court costs.

Matherne is represented by Hugh P. Lambert, Emily C. Jeffcott, Cayce C. Peterson, and Jeremy Z. Soso of The Lambert Firm, PLC in New Orleans. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:13-cv-06689

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