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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Disgruntled New Seasons Employees Protest Firing of Worker over Alleged "Rice and Tofu Theft"

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 2:29 PM

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A group calling itself the New Seasons' Market Workers' Voice is planning to protest the SE Division Seven Corners New Seasons today during rush hour.
Criminal.
  • Criminal.

The workers are upset over the firing of Seven Corners employee Ryan Gaughan. After working for New Seasons since 2002, Gaughan was allegedly fired for rice and tofu theft (because, of course, it's New Seasons). The report of his alleged crime follows:

Management claims that Ryan was not paying for scoops of brown rice from the deli. Ryan denies this accusation out right. Deli staff use a variety of methods to charge people for rice; printing out a sticker, adding the cost to another deli item, or charging for rice at the register when people bring up their plate. On all occasions, Ryan has paid for rice at the register when purchasing his lunch, when prompted to do so by the cashier.

Management claims that Ryan has been witnessed “by a staff member” taking “two scoops” of tofu from the deli wok bar, adding the product to his lunch plate, and not paying for the product at the register. On two occasions, Ryan pointed out the tofu on his plate to the deli cashier, and was told, “That’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.” Ryan has paid for all items on his lunch plate when prompted to do so by the cashier.

Gaughan's supporters say he was targeted by New Seasons because he has been persistent in advocating for better worker conditions, like pushing New Seasons to expand its healthcare to fully cover transgender employees. Immediately after his firing last week, Gaughan filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. There's also an online petition demanding his job back.

In addition to reinstating Gaughan, the New Seasons workers group is also demanding the grocer establish a peer-review system regarding disciplinary actions and terminations. The protest is scheduled for 5pm today at SE 20th and Division.

UPDATE: New Seasons marketing director Amy Brown says the company cannot comment on personnel decisions, but, "We can say the process was fair, and the decision was appropriate and consistent with our longstanding employee policies." She adds that the company supports its employees' right to protest.

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