Nestle SA has presented a special request to a Swiss judge asking for extra security for the company’s CEO--Paul Bulcke--when he testifies in a court case in which a former employee alleges that Nestle ignored her food safety warnings.
Bulcke’s pending court appearance--scheduled for December--prompted attorney Remy Wyler to write to the presiding judge asking her to “take the measures necessary to ensure the security of the people being heard”. At least three other Nestle executives will also be testifying in the case initiated by the company’s former food safety manager, Yasmine Motarjemi. Specifically, Nestle’s counsel is worried about activists taking “advantage of the opportunity of the hearing to create trouble.” Protesters and activists have been known to infiltrate Nestle meetings in the past.
Motarjemi--who previously worked with the World Health Organization--says she was harassed and then fired in 2010 after repeated attempts to notify Nestle of various food safety problems--first about excess levels of vitamins A and D in baby formula. Nestle denies her harassment claims, and warnings were never addressed. She is now seeking $2.1 million to cover her legal and medical expenses, and half of 10 years of lost income due to her termination. Nestle has filed a countersuit claiming that Motarjemi violated “professional secrecy”.
“Regarding the quality of our products, Ms. Motarjemi’s claims are completely groundless,” Nestle says. “The safety and quality of our products are our absolute priorities, and we do not tolerate failures in this area. It is for this reason that we had to part ways with Ms. Motarjemi in 2010.”
Motarjemi will testify in court on December 1. Nestle’s executives will not appear until December 16.
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