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2015-05-07

Perdue Farms Response To Watts Whistleblower Complaint


Perdue has filed its formal response to a “whistleblower” complaint by a disgruntled contract poultry farmer, rejecting his claims of retaliation and requesting that the U.S. Department of Labor-OSHA dismiss his frivolous complaint. 

The complaint, filed by a non-governmental advocacy organization calling itself the Government Accountability Project on behalf of Craig Watts, alleges retaliation against Watts in the wake of an activist video released by Compassion in World Farming.  In its response, Perdue details why it has good reason to believe the grower deliberately withheld appropriate care from chickens he was raising for Perdue to allow the activist group to film them and cooperated in the production of a skewed and misleading video.  Perdue’s response also lays out Watts’ years of complaints and activism about the economics of contract chicken production before he resorted to participating in an apparent scheme to defame Perdue and disparage how its chickens are raised and marketed.

The response also highlights the specious basis for the original complaint.  The complaint was filed under a whistleblower protection law designed to protect employees in businesses regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Watts is unequivocally a contract grower, something he himself has said repeatedly.  In addition, regulatory authority for poultry production and products lies with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not the FDA. These two facts alone are sufficient to dismiss the complaint.

Nevertheless, Perdue also responded to the allegations of retaliation, pointing out the irony of Watts setting up the situation and then “blowing the whistle” on his own actions in the video.  Actions Watts calls retaliation, including retraining and increased flock monitoring, were put in place to protect the chickens. During the many years that Watts has been a vocal critic of contract growing and of Perdue, and in the wake the video release, Perdue has have never taken retribution, and in fact continue to work with him. The response further details how multiple allegations in the complaint are inaccurate or unsupported.

Perdue reiterates that Watts is free to exit his contract with Perdue at any time and has even offered to waive the 90-day notice period to allow him out of the contract. We understand, again from his own comments, that he is not financially constrained from doing so if he is unable or unwilling to raise chickens in compliance with Perdue’s requirements.

 Read the full filing at  Perdue Watts Complaint Response to OSHA

 

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