Chicago man slaps whistleblower suit against Plants Inc. over firing

By The Cook County Record | Aug 7, 2014

A Chicago man has filed a whistleblower suit against his former employer, claiming he was fired for complaining about its allegedly deceptive marketing and unlicensed use of pesticides.

Gerard Macek filed a lawsuit on July 23 in the Cook County Circuit Court against Plants Inc., a Cook County company that sells, rents and maintains plants for individuals and businesses in the area.

According to the complaint, Macek worked as a services supervisor for the company from August 2007 to August 2013, traveling to client locations and caring for plant displays the company rented to customers.

Macek claims his supervisor ordered him to apply pesticides to a plant display at a customer’s location in June 2013.

Two weeks later, the suit states, Macek responded to his supervisor's order by saying he did not have the proper licensing to apply pesticides and that the company’s advertisements, which said it did not use pesticides, were false and misleading.

On July 15, 2013, Macek claims, he refused to apply pesticides to any of the company’s plants and two days later, filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the company’s use of pesticides.

Sometime between July 17 and Aug. 8 of the same year, the suit alleges Micelli became aware of the OSHA complaint and fired Macek.

Macek contends Plants Inc. violated the Illinois Whistleblower Act by terminating him in retaliation for his complaints to OSHA and to his supervisor.

His suit seeks reinstatement to his former position, back pay with interest, all compensation lost, punitive damages, reasonable costs and attorney’s fees and any other relief deemed appropriate.

He is being represented by Matthew D. Lango and Odinaka Ezeokoli with Legal Assistance Foundation in Chicago.

Cook County Circuit Court Case No. 2014L007736.

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the Cook County Circuit Court. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it represents only one side of the story.

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