Santa Barbara Attorneys File Whistleblower Lawsuit against Haggen
Employee who Challenged Overpricing Says She Was Forced to Retire
A Santa Barbara-based employment law firm, Anticouni & Associates, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Haggen, the ill-fated grocery chain from Washington state, in Santa Barbara Superior Court on Wednesday.
The lawsuit — filed on behalf of former Haggen employee Debbi Sukiasian, who had worked 38 years for Safeway and chose to remain as a pricing specialist at the Carpinteria Safeway store when it transitioned to Haggen this June — alleges Haggen fired Sukiasian after she informed higher-ups about Haggen’s shelf and register price discrepancies, which led the store to overcharge customers by several cents to over a dollar per item.
According to the lawsuit, after notifying regional Haggen executives about the faulty new pricing system, Sukiasian emailed Haggen Pacific Southwest CEO Bill Shaner. Shortly thereafter, Haggen executives visited the Carpinteria store and told management “to find a way to terminate” Sukiasian due to her email, the lawsuit states.
Sukiasian, who retired before she was terminated, requests a jury trial, claiming various damage compensations, attorney’s fees, and employment interest, among other items.
In response to the allegations, Haggen said it “was disappointed to learn about this lawsuit and is confident it has absolutely no merit.” The latest filing marks the fourth lawsuit filed against Haggen since its contentious transition into southwest markets this year.
A copy of the complaint can be read below.