Mobbing case Motarjemi

With hardly any notice from the public, Nestle’s legal department is currently fighting the lawsuit of a former member of staff, which could bring the group’s food safety policy into disrepute. Yasmine Motarjemi accuses the company of harassment. The case is pending under case n° CC11.012142. It is, however, much more than a simple industrial law dispute. For 10 years, Motarjemi was a high-ranking member of Nestle’s food safety team – until she was dismissed in July 2010. The letter of dismissal succinctly states that Yasmine Motarjemi and her superiors had differing views on the management of food safety. This hides an embittered dispute about the possible failure to implement precautionary measures in favour of food safety, lasting for years. It is about dangerous vitamin contents, damage to the health of babies, dead pets and life-threatening bacterial infections. For the moment it’s Yasmine Motarjemi’s word against Nestle’s. “We reject Yasmine Motarjemi’s accusations of harassment, because they are completely unfounded and do not correspond to the truth”, says Nestlé.

The group denies any fundamental flaws in the management of food safety. Nestlé staff undergo regular training. In 2008, Nestlé recorded a training video with a leading quality manager. He says: „Audits have shown that we have a lot of flaws in our HACCP studies, including in our factories and in research and development.” The leading manager and trainer in the video, however, thinks that the procedure is “WHO quack-quack”. In the training video, his main recommendation for the Nestle staff is as follows: “When you identify risks, do not let yourself be distracted by contaminating ingredients and traces. These do not constitute a significant risk in our factories.”

Source (Handelszeitung, 29.10.2012)

On 15 June 2014, a first hearing of the plaintiff took place, to determine procedure and the list of witnesses of the court case. In December 2014, the judge took a decision on procedure. Nestlé lodged an appeal, as it had done when the court decided to accept the case. The case was put on hold until the decision on Nestle’s complaint was taken. These delaying tactis had already been used successfully by Nestlé in the past, e.g. in the case of "Luciano Romero".
On 1 December 2015, the second phase of the process court case started with a full-day hearing of Yasmine Motarjemi. On 16 December 2105, four top managers of Nestle had to attend a court hearing:

  • Paul Bulcke, CEO, Nestlé
  • Jean-Marc Duvoisin, CEO, Nespresso
  • Francisco Castañer, former Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Centre Administration, Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Products, Nestlé
  • José Lopez, former Executive Vice President in charge of Operations, Nestlé

The court case will probably last until early summer 2016.
Open letter to the new Nestlé-CEO (8.5.2017)