PATERSON, N.J. (CN) – A 58-year-old woman claims in court that her boss at a major seafood company slapped her in the face when she reported the company’s illegal practices, then told her to “go home and think about what you just made me do.”
Denise Chadwick sued North Landing Ltd., her boss and alleged assailant Dorvenir Amaral, and owners of North Landing, in Passaic County Court.
North Landing “holds itself out as one of the largest importers and distributors of fresh Atlantic salmon on the East Coast,” according to the complaint.
Chadwick says in the complaint that the company used illegal chemicals to treat its fish products, did not disclose that it added saline liquid to its filets and passed off as Scottish filets “cheap salmon the was dumped in Miami from Chile.”
North Landing, based in Clifton, N.J., sells fish to major retailers “such as Kroger’s Supermarkets, Whole Foods and Safeway,” according to the complaint.
Chadwick, who says she has worked for North Landing since 2000, claims the company changed for the worse in 2008, when “a trio of foreign businessmen acquired North Landing.”
That’s when defendants Ardnor Bjornsson, Bertil Christiansson and Sam Olstrom bought the company and brought in Amaral as general manager, Chadwick says. “Under the new management, plaintiff began to notice certain business practices that were different than the practices she had known under the former owner,” according to the complaint.
Chadwick says she protested the company’s use of Salmosan, which is “not on the FDA’s approved list” of chemicals to treat sea lice.
She claims that in late 2011 she “became aware that North Landing was bringing in salmon from farms in Europe where the fish had been treated with Salmosan.”
When she warned Amaral that the chemical was not allowed by the FDA, he “told plaintiff to delete computer records showing the fish having been treated with Salmosan,” according to the complaint.
Chadwick adds that “occasionally, North Landing would have an opportunity to buy cheap salmon that was dumped in Miami from Chile” and that it “purchased Chilean salmon from Miami, had it shipped to the Clifton plant, repackaged the fish, and sold it to retailers as Scottish salmon.”
Chadwick says the violations didn’t stop there: that North Landing began “using a salinating machine” and “did not disclose to its customers the fact that it was adding saline liquid to its fillets.”
She claims that when an FDA inspector arrived, Amaral asked if she had told co-workers to turn off the salinating machine and when she said that she hadn’t, he “cursed her, saying ‘You stupid bitch,’ and he ran to the production floor” to demand it be turned off.
Chadwick says Amaral’s abuse came to a head on March 9, when she voiced concerns about the violations again, and he “took (her) into a small room at the North Landing offices and verbally berated her.”
The complaint continues: “Defendant Amaral slapped plaintiff across the face. Plaintiff protested loudly that he was violating the law by terrifying her, screaming at her, threatening to fire her and physically attacking her.
“At this point, defendant Amaral left the building and plaintiff returned to the sales office, shaken by the confrontation.
“Approximately 45 minutes later defendant Amaral returned, took plaintiff aside and said, ‘Now I want you to go home and think about what you just made me do.’
Plaintiff did go home and then took herself to the Clifton police station to file a complaint.
“Plaintiff Chadwick experienced chest pain, anxiety and panic attacks so she went to her primary care physician. She was feeling increasingly ill, so her physician called an ambulance and she was taken to the emergency department at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, New Jersey. At the hospital, she was found to have severe tachycardia and acute anxiety reaction in response to the assault and battery by defendant Amaral.”
Chadwick claims North Landing constructively fired her, and that Amaral “verbally and physically battered (her) because she complained about fraudulent conduct and unlawful practices.”
She seeks damages for battery, negligence and employment law violations.
She is represented by Katherine Robinson with Layser & Friewald of Audubon, N.J.