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My boss suspended me speaking up about unsafe conditions in the school kitchen , can I quit and sue?

Woodbridge, VA |

I work as a chef in an early learning center where i prepare meals for almost 200 kids, I tried to get my boss to put a good system in place but to no avail. The gym instructor who has no culinary skills also prepares meals but not with safety measures and when I try to correct him so that no child will get sick, it becomes a fight and my boss tells me not to confront him on any issue since I am not his supervisor or wife. But how do I watch him give unwashed and sandy zucchini/ cucumber or any vegetable to the kids without speaking up immediately? My boss wants me to shut up at that point and tell her about it at the end of the day after the kids have already eaten. She suspended me yesterday for speaking up, and corporate is saying they will talk to human resources and get back to me.

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Attorney answers 3


You should be complimented for your concern about the school kids health. There may be statutory protection for raising these types of concerns, but I'm not sure. Perhaps a VA attorney will weigh in on this issue. In the meantime, you should make written notes (at home) regarding your interactions with others on this issue. Keep the notes factual and professional. Quitting and suing at this point seems a bit hasty. You might want to wait to hear back from corporate. Good luck.

My answers to questions posted on AVVO are intended to provide general information only, and are not intended to be legal advice. Employment law issues typically require a careful case-by-case analysis. Consequently, if you feel that you need legal advice, I would encourage you to consult in person with an employment attorney in your area.


Before you let this matter escalate any further, against the fact that you are presently employed, make sure of your facts. Are you CERTAIN that the produce is not purchased as previously washed, for example? The best intentions in the world won't matter much if you are aggressing on bad or incomplete factual beliefs. And while the law may offer you protections from retaliatory termination, the law does not prevent it. So, as the carpenters say, measure twice and cut once. Be sure your facts and allegations are correct.

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If the facts are as you claim them to be, and they subsequently terminate you, there maybe a code or statue in VA or under Federal laws, which the employer might have violated (in this case providing unsanitary food to children). If so, you might have a claim for unlawful termination for violation of public policy. Prior to your termination however there is very little that you can do, other than to simply document the unsanitary conditions.