Whole Foods refuses to interview an employee with a migrant background and faces a discrimination lawsuit.
Mark Opio, 36, who lived in a refugee camp for nearly a decade, immigrated to Maine twenty years ago. He recently applied for a position as Deputy Team Leader at Whole Foods and was invited to a panel interview. However, in a recent lawsuit, he has alleged the company canceled that appointment because Opio could not read the store’s operations manual – a claim he believes is false. The lawsuit also alleges that a manager “told opio that he had not done enough to prove himself to others in the department he wanted to work in and failed to get employees to consider you as one of them.” to accept.”
Under state law, a decision by the Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC) is required to file a discrimination lawsuit. Last fall, MHRC found “reasonable grounds to believe that Whole Foods Mark discriminated against opio based on race, color, ancestry and / or national origin”. There was “no reasonable reason to believe that Whole Foods and / or Amazon retaliated against Mark Opio for engaging in WPA and / or MHRA protected activities”.
Photo by Mehrad Vosoughi from Pexels
Opio commented, “I felt like I had the American dream come true, and I believed that everyone in America had a chance for success if they were willing to work hard and be judged on the quality of their work. But when Whole Foods denied me the opportunity to even conduct an executive interview, I questioned all of that. I wonder if America will always treat me like a second-class citizen. “
His attorney Carol J. Garvan of Portland firm Johnson, Webbert & Garvan added, “Opio worked in the meat division of Whole Foods for seven years before moving to Canada for a few years in 2015.” The complaint continues: “He has Leaving Whole Foods to find a job where he would have a fair chance to rise in the company and receive recognition for his hard work and education. Mr Opio would not have left Whole Foods if he had received the promotion. “
Opio, who became a US citizen in 2007, holds a bachelor’s degree in business and management from the University of Southern Maine. After being told his interview was canceled, the company reportedly hired a white man with less than two years of experience. According to the complaint, Opio announced its two-week notice period to the company on September 26, 2019. He seeks reimbursement and damages as well as the introduction of an obligation for managers to complete civil rights training.
The company has faced similar litigation recently. In February of that year, a federal judge dismissed most of a discrimination lawsuit filed by former employees at a Whole Foods Market in Cambridge. The lawsuit, which was originally filed in the summer of 2020, alleged that the company had “illegally banned employees from wearing protective masks that read” Black Lives Matter. “Plaintiffs said Whole Foods had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 violated.
“Worst-case scenario,” wrote Boston Federal Court Judge Allison Burroughs, “they selectively enforced dress codes to suppress certain speeches in the workplace.” As unattractive as that may be, it is not behavior that has been made illegal by Title VII. “
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