Posts tagged with "Fired in retaliation for whistleblowing"

Smoke and mirrors: Juul knowingly sold tainted nicotine pods, former executive says

October 31, 2019

The quality control initiative at Juul for the production of the e-liquid for JUULpods is all “smoke and mirrors,” according to allegations made by a former executive, The New York Times reports

In fact, the source asserts, the e-cigarette giant sold at least one million contaminated mint-flavored nicotine pods — and refused to recall them when told about the problem in March.

Now, he is suing, because, he says, Juul retaliated against him for speaking out.

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday, October 29, Siddharth Breja, who was SVP for Global Finance at the company, claims he was fired on March 21 in retaliation for whistleblowing and objecting to the shipment of the contaminated and expired pods—as well as other illegal and unsafe conduct that “has jeopardized and continues to jeopardize public health and safety and the lives of millions of consumers, many of them children and teens.”

According to the Times report, Breja detailed a culture of indifference to safety and quality-control issues among top executives at the company and quoted the then-CEO Kevin Burns saying at a meeting in February: “Half our customers are drunk and vaping” and wouldn’t “notice the quality of our pods.”

A woman who answered Burns’ phone said he was not available to speak, the news outlet said. The former CEO left Juul in September.

However, in a conversation with the Times, Ted Kwong, a Juul spokesperson, dismissed Breja’s claims as baseless.

“He was terminated in March 2019 because he failed to demonstrate the leadership qualities needed in his role,” Kwong said. “The allegations concerning safety issues with Juul products are equally meritless, and we already investigated the underlying manufacturing issue and determined the product met all applicable specifications.”

Breja’s lawsuit did not specify what the contaminant in the nicotine pods was , the news outlet said. Breja said he urged Juul’s chief financial officer to issue either a recall or put out product safety warnings. A week later, the complaint says, the whistle-blower was fired.

This lawsuit is only the latest in a growing series of cases against Juul being filed around the country by school districts and individuals. The claims typically focus on personal injury for vaping-related illnesses or false marketing.

Research contact: @nytimes