Amy’s Kitchen is one of the most famous and beloved organic food companies in the world, enjoying a relatively pristine image among all who purchase health foods on grocery store shelves nationwide.
The company also opened the country’s first organic fast food restaurant back in July 2015, much to the delight of organic food purveyors and consumers alike who had been waiting for such a momentous event to take place in the preceding months and years.
Now, Amy’s is facing a media backlash, however, as the company has been called out for allegedly mistreating five current and former employees who said they were injured and not properly cared for, according to a report from The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa.
What the Claims Against Amy’s Kitchen Entail
The claims include the following scenarios according to the reports:
–One employee said she was told to remove an arm brace she had received for repetitive stress in her hand and was told to work without it
-Another with cancer said she struggled to receive compliance with a doctor’s request she be allowed to work in a chair
-Others said they were forced to work in what they called “the corral,” disinfecting the cafeteria where they said they felt abandoned, according to the NBC report
Amy’s was founded in 1987 and is the largest maker of organic vegetarian packaged foods. It also is the six largest maker of frozen foods in the United States currently, with 21 million cases of food shipped in 2020 according to the company.
It has branches in California, Oregon, New York, and Idaho currently, and all of its items are organic and vegetarian or vegan.
According to Berliner and Amy’s Personnel Chief Mike Resch, the company has taken the reported complaints seriously and will review their cases and learn from them.
They added that their company history and larger dossier of employee experiences do not match with the workplace portrayed by the NBC story.
Another worker, Ines De La Luz, said that she was laid off after her position was eliminated in the cafeteria. She was still approved for surgery through her worker’s compensation plan, but had to have the procedure delayed indefinitely because her blood pressure skyrocketed after losing her job.
Now, her husband supports the family financially, she said, while she has struggled with basic tasks such as brushing her daughter’s hair.
She believes she was not treated fairly according to comments obtained by Yahoo News.
De La Luz, the woman who was laid off after her position was eliminated in the cafeteria, was still approved for surgery through her worker’s comp, but has had to have the procedure delayed indefinitely because her blood pressure shot up after losing her job. Now her husband supports the family financially while she struggles with basic tasks like brushing her daughter’s hair.
A handful of independent grocers have dropped the brand with the past few months according to an April report from the Washington Post, including Mandela Grocery Cooperative in Oakland, California, People’s Co-Op and Alberta Co-Op in Portland, Oregon, and a few others.
“We shouldn’t be living in pain, working in pain and constantly having pain,” she said.
“We don’t want to be treated like donkeys anymore.”
Amy’s Organic’s Statement in Response to Accusations
Following the accusations, Chief Executive Officer Andy Berliner issued a statement on Monday afternoon stating that a core value of the company he and his wife launched 35 years ago is creating a workplace where people take care of one another, or caring for the “whole person” as he put it.
Berliner was responding to an NBC News story published on Monday alleging that four current employees and one former worker, all women, said that the company failed to accommodate their needs adequately after they were injured on the job.
Some of the women say they were pressured to stay on the assembly line despite serious medical concerns.
“This report does not reflect who we are as a company and the values we uphold,” Berliner’s statement read.
“When Rachel and I started Amy’s, we worked alongside our employees on the line and committed to them that Amy’s would always be a compassionate, people-first workplace. We want all Amy’s employees to feel like they are being taken care of, and we are deeply saddened to hear about the experiences these five employees have described.”
The company did not speak to the accuracy of the women’s injury claims, the Press-Democrat report said.
The alleged injuries affected their hands and arms, and made it difficult for them to perform their usual duties, especially amid increased production goals, the article added.
They were reportedly shifted to other jobs that only aggravated their existing concerns instead.