Group fights to get fired Whole Foods dishwasher her job back

ROCKVILLE, Md. — An immigrants’ rights group in D.C. is fighting to help a woman get her job back at Whole Foods after they say she was fired for organizing with other workers.

Julia Flores, who worked for 14 years as a dishwasher at a D.C. Whole Foods, was fired in September “under suspicious circumstances,” according to Hannah Kane, who works with “Many Languages One Voice, or MLOV, a nonprofit that organizes with immigrants to defend their rights in D.C.

A small group of MLOV supporters accompanied Flores to Whole Foods’ corporate office in Rockville Wednesday morning to present a petition the group says was signed by 600 Whole Foods customers trying to get Flores’ job back.

At the time Flores was fired from the Whole Food at 14th and P streets in Northwest D.C., she was organizing with workers “to stand up for their rights,” Kane said.

Kane said Flores also had an ongoing worker compensation claim because of an injury she suffered at work.

The store’s manager Victor Vasquez, who is no longer at that store, said Flores was accused of theft. But Flores denies that charge.

Flores, who spoke through an interpreter, said “I’ve been extremely affected by this” adding that she desperately needs her job back.

Before showing up to the Rockville office Wednesday morning, Kane said her organization had tried many times to reach out to the company without success.

At the Rockville office, Kane said the group was able to meet with a representative from the corporate office. “They are considering setting up a meeting and … her case is still under consideration,” Kane said.

However, in a statement provided to WTOP over the phone about the gathering of Flores and her supporters, Brooke Buchanan, a company spokeswoman said: “Whole Foods has a theft policy that was violated by the team member that resulted in her separation from the company. No other factors played a role in this decision. And Whole Foods supports the right to assemble and raise awareness for their causes.”

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