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Employee files retaliation suit against major beverage company

A former employee, a vice president, says National Beverage Corp., the maker of LaCroix sparkling water, fired him after he suggested that his employer was planning to misrepresent how it manufactured its aluminum cans.

At issue was the chemical Bisphenol A, also called BPA. BPA is commonly included in aluminum cans. While the federal Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, considers the chemical safe in limited amounts, other states, including California, have deemed BPA a potential carcinogen as well as a chemical that can affect fertility.

According to the employee's lawsuit, the President of the company intended to indicate that LaCroix cans were BPA-free in around 2018. Such was not the case. Although National Beverage has been changing over to BPA-free liners for several months, the process was not completed until April 2019.

The employee further claims that when he objected to this decision, the President first threatened him with his job and then fired him the following day.

Interestingly, this is not the first time LaCroix or its parent corporation has been accused of engaging in false or misleading marketing techniques. Last year, National Beverage had to fend off allegations that it was using artificial ingredients in LaCroix water, despite calling it "all natural."

As is the case in other states, California employees can legally never be expected to break the law as part of their job duties. Likewise, should they choose to report on the illegal activities of their companies, whistleblower statutes will protect them in many circumstances.

An employee who gets fired in retaliation for whistleblowing may be able to recover damages for things like lost wages and fringe benefits via a wrongful termination case. Compensation for emotional distress and other non-economic losses may also be available.

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