Former Gwinnett school cafeteria worker sues under whistleblower act

The empty halls of Shiloh Middle School in Snellville in April 2020 after the coronavirus forced schools to go online. BEN GRAY / FOR THE AJC

The empty halls of Shiloh Middle School in Snellville in April 2020 after the coronavirus forced schools to go online. BEN GRAY / FOR THE AJC

A former cafeteria worker at Shiloh Middle School recently sued Gwinnett County Public Schools under the Georgia Whistleblower Act, alleging she was fired after complaining about health code violations to supervisors.

Sharon Huskey filed the lawsuit in Gwinnett County Superior Court. The complaint describes her as an experienced cafeteria worker who knew the health code well and was concerned about food safety.

“While we cannot discuss the merits of the case, the district is prepared to vigorously defend against the suit,” said Sloan Roach, school district spokeswoman.

According to the lawsuit, Huskey often complained to her supervisor and an assistant supervisor and the school principal about health code violations in the cafeteria. She complained that chicken nuggets were not dated before they were put into the refrigerator, food was not properly wrapped and the fruit and vegetable sink was often used for other foods, the lawsuit says.

On Oct. 20 of last year, the principal and a school district human resources official fired Huskey. The lawsuit alleges the human resources official told Huskey she should not have said anything about the chicken nuggets before firing her.

“The school system will likely say that Ms. Huskey was fired for a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason such as insubordination,” her attorney, Allen Lightcap, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “However, we believe we have strong evidence to show Ms. Huskey was fired because she complained that food safety rules were not being followed.”

Huskey is seeking reinstatement to her own position or an equivalent position, with fringe benefits and seniority rights, compensation for lost wages and benefits and attorneys’ fees.

Records show the Gwinnett, Newton & Rockdale County Health Departments inspected Shiloh Middle School’s cafeteria in April. The school earned a score of 100 and a grade of “A.” The cafeteria also scored 100 during a November 2019 inspection.

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