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Suit: Grocer fired 3 who told of misdeeds

Former Save A Lot workers reported managers who inflated prices and falsified expiration dates, the lawsuit says.

By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 16, 2002


ST. PETERSBURG -- Three former workers at a Save A Lot Food Store have filed suit against the national grocer chain saying they were fired after reporting questionable practices by two store managers.

The employees say they were fired in August and September after complaining about numerous problems, including a manager who inflated prices for merchandise and who also ordered workers to extend the expiration date on unsold meat and poultry.

Cashier Lisa A. Dixon, 29, and meat department workers Andrew J. Hamilton, 20, and Linda D. Maudsley, 40, who all worked at the Save A Lot at 890 49th St. N in St. Petersburg, seek damages in excess of $15,000 in a lawsuit filed last week in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court.

The three St. Petersburg residents could not be reached, and their lawyer, Ron Nelson, declined to comment.

Save A Lot is a subsidiary of Supervalu Inc., the nation's 10th-largest supermarket retailer and the largest distributor in the grocery industry with sales of more than $20-billion. Save A Lot operates nearly 1,000 stores, including about 100 in Florida and 22 in the Tampa Bay area.

The supermarket chain said it is investigating the allegations.

"Certainly we take such matters very seriously. As always, Save A Lot is committed to the welfare of both its customers and employees," said company spokesman Dan Kimack, declining to comment further. Dixon, who earned $10.25 per hour, and Hamilton, who earned $9 per hour, had each worked at the store for just less than a year. Maudsley, who also earned $9 an hour, had worked at the store for about 18 months.

The lawsuit said that Dixon telephoned the chain's human resources department in June complaining about problems at the store. Among allegations in the lawsuit:

A store co-manager ordered Maudsley to wrap oxtails that were spoiled and then place them on a shelf for sale. When she refused, the co-manager did so himself, the suit said.

After the store's frozen foods were delivered in the morning, they were sometimes left sitting out in the open until the food thawed. Then, the suit said, they were stocked in freezers for sale.

Whenever a package of frozen food arrived opened, the item was wrapped and sold at a reduced price rather than being discarded.

Managers re-packaged a roast that was green on one side so the customer would only see its good side.

The lawsuit said managers received bonuses and commissions based on store profits.

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