Prairie Farms worker files retaliatory discharge suit

Steve Gonzalez Jul. 31, 2006, 7:20am

Prairie Farms Dairy in Granite City.

A former employee of Prairie Farms Dairy filed a retaliatory discharge suit in Madison County Circuit Court July 26, alleging he was fired for not engaging in conduct that violated public policy of the State of Illinois.

Charles Brown claims he began working at the Granite City plant in September 2004 and during the course of his employment he protested safety violations being committed by Prairie Farms.

Brown claims he had problems with a particular piece of machinery, the EQ-5, which was involved with the production of milk. He claims the quality and safety of the milk produced by Prairie Farms was compromised.

He also claimed he raised questions about the lack of preventative maintenance on EQ-5, resulting in the necessity of reworking the product or disposing it for health reasons and the use of reworked product when Prairie Farms was representing to customers that it was not using a reworked product.

Brown further alleges Prairie Farms repeated misrepresentations to one of its customers regarding the quality and handling of the milk product. He claims he protested the practice of under-filling milk and cream cartons.

He also claims that he protested reusing milk that Prairie Farms had been ordered to dispose of by the state of Nebraska.

Brown also claims he refused to prepare forms which would have falsely stated that Prairie Farms was doing required checks for quality on a periodic basis.

He claims he was fired in December 2005, for his repeated protests.

"Defendant's retaliatory discharge of plaintiff was willful, wanton and malicious," the complaint states.

Brown claims his termination caused him to lose wages and benefits and suffer from embarrassment, humiliation, inconvenience and loss of enjoyment of life.

He is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $50,000, plus an appropriate amount of punitive damages.

Brown is represented by Ferne Wolf of Sowers and Wolf in St. Louis.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Don Weber.

06 L 631

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