A former part-time employee of JC Penney has filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that his former manager and the company itself retaliated against him after he publicly stated that the company fleeced its customers.
Between 2007 and 2009, the whistleblower was employed part-time in the custom decorating department in the Penney’s St. Petersburg, Florida, store. He was then again employed part-time by the company between August 2012 and July 2013. The whistleblower claims that his former manager and top company officials retaliated against him after he complained that the store was overcharging customers, according to Fortune.
“I saw a lot of pricing teams going through the store, raising the prices, mostly doublingâ€”towels and clothing,” the whistleblower told NBC News. “Then they would go on sale, and they wouldn’t always go on sale for 50 percent off. Not only was it a fake sale, but they were actually paying more than they would have been previously.”
The former employee contacted then-CEO Ron Johnson and Dan Walker, then-head of human resources. Emails the whistleblower shared with Fortune show that both men agreed to investigate his claims, and confirm that they did look into the alleged price hikes. But the whistleblower was not satisfied and made the decision to go public with his allegations on the Today Show last July. The plan backfired and JC Penney fired the man and subsequently sued the whistleblower for theft of trade secrets shortly thereafter, Fortune reported.
Now, the whistleblower is fighting back. Even though JC Penney dropped their suit in September 2014, the former employee says the company sullied his reputation. On February 2, 2015, the whistleblower filed an arbitration lawsuit against the company.
“I was, (am), clearly ‘war-weary’,” Blatchford wrote in an email to Fortune, “but I have to be honest here, I can’t just let this end without proper vindication of my name, I am not a ‘rat.’”
JC Penney accused the whistleblower of having an “unbalanced vendetta” against the company and a “love of media attention.” The retailer claims that the former employee holds confidential business and customer records. JC Penney also claims it was forced to bring the matter to arbitration in order to protect its customers, according to Huffington Post.
JC Penney and department store competitor, Kohl’s, were each slapped with class-action lawsuits in 2013, alleging that their finagling of prices violated consumer protection guidelines in California, Huffington Post reported.