Whole Foods Market is facing a class action from nine managers it terminated earlier this month for supposedly manipulating the Austin, Texas-based grocer's bonus program, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The lawsuit claims that Whole Foods fired the managers for “blowing the whistle on a company-wide practice of not paying bonuses earned by employees." It says that the grocer engaged in “systematic wage theft” at its stores across the country and punished them following a “sham internal investigation.” Additionally, the former managers, are making defamation claims for accusations that Whole Foods made against them earlier this month. Each is seeking $25 million in damages.
In a statement shared by AP, Whole Foods spokeswoman Betsy Harden called the allegations “not consistent with the findings to date of our internal investigations,” and said the grocer would respond appropriately.
Originally, Whole Foods said it fired the managers, who were employed at nine Mid-Atlantic Whole Foods stores, for manipulating its “Gainsharing program,” the Washington Post reported. The program awards bonuses to employees whose departments come in under budget.