Two Whole Foods employees who have been working at the Portland store during the pandemic were granted the right to join a lawsuit filed by the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce against the city of Portland yesterday by a Justice of the Superior Court in Portland according to court records obtained by this blogger today.
Justice Thomas D. Warren yesterday granted Caleb Horton and Mario Roberge-Reyes the right to become Intervening-Defendants in the Chamber’s lawsuit because the two Whole Foods employees meet the legal requirements to be defendants in the case as well as the city of Portland. One of the more glaring justifications for inclusion in the lawsuit is that the city has, in well-publicized fashion, abandoned its moral and legal obligation to protect the rights of the two employees under the law passed by voters overwhelmingly on November 3, 2020. Without this legal protection by the city for the workforce, the two are left on their own to experience the outcome of the lawsuit – whatever that may be. The passed ordinance requires businesses to pay employees $18.00 per hour when they are working during an emergency, such as the current pandemic, where they are classified as ‘essential workers.’ That Ordinance goes into effect this weekend.
Caleb and Mario have worked at Whole Foods during the on-going pandemic. This puts them at risk and their families as well. Both earn under $18.00 per hour according to a filing by their attorneys, Johnson, Webbert & Garvan, LLP. Whole Foods, owned by Amazon, has enjoyed record earnings during this pandemic and has not indicated any intention to comply with the ordinance passed by Portland voters. The city of Portland has stated very publicly this emergency provision does not go into effect until 2022 leaving Caleb and Mario to fend for themselves in their pursuit of Hazard Pay justice under the law.
The Maine Center for Economic Policy has stated that about 23,000 Portland employees could see wage increases under the new ordinance, if the Regional Chamber looses its court battle to block Hazard Pay for essential workers.
Please see post herein dated December 3, 2020 for the full and unedited response of the People First Portland (PFP) .to the “courageous” move of Caleb and Mario.