Two former restaurant supervisors are blowing the whistle on Pollo Campero – a business that claims to be “the world’s largest Latin American chicken chain.”
Elsy Ortega and Evelin Iglesias claim they were unjustly fired in 2013 after refusing to use expired chicken at two of the chain’s establishments in Maryland. Two years later, the case is still under review at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
According to Ortega, the store manager at the Wheaton, Maryland facility asked her to prepare expired chicken that was green and smelled bad, but she refused. Days later, she was allegedly dismissed for forgetting to turn off the alarm and putting the establishment at risk.
Iglesias told Spanish-language newspaper El Tiempo Latino she experienced a similar situation: “I didn’t want to run the risk of a customer getting sick and blaming me. I had a responsibility to ensure that everything was okay, for the sake of myself and the company.”
The former employees’ lawyers say they requested copies of receipts from one of the supervisors showing purchases of vinegar, which was supposedly used to wash the expired chicken.
Both women have found other jobs since, but say they only want justice for the retaliation they faced.
The complaint alleges violation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which includes whistleblower protections aimed at ensuring that food safety concerns such as these are heard.
Sarah Damian is Communications Manager for the Food Integrity Campaign.