Carissa Mace, president of the Anaheim, Calif.-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council for the past 12 years, has been terminated by the council’s board of directors.
No reason was given for her termination, which was effective Oct. 25.
Mace had been out on authorized medical leave for about a month and was planning to return to work on Oct. 28, said her attorney, Joel Baruch of the Law Offices of Joel Baruch PC, Irvine, Calif.
Baruch said the medical leave was the result of alleged harassment Mace had received by certain board members.
Earlier in October, the FPFC announced the departure of Amy Wun and Brett Roberts, FPFC employees who worked with Mace.
Although the council gave no reason for their departure, Baruch said it was in protest of Mace’s termination.
Apparently, some board members also had an issue with the termination process.
“There have been two or three or four board members that have basically resigned in protest,” Baruch said, because they claimed the proper termination formalities were not followed.
“They have to follow their bylaws, and they have to vote on it,” he said. “I don’t even know that they had a quorum.”
He said Mace, a member of the board of directors, was not informed of any meetings where her termination was discussed.
“I’ve demanded minutes of any such meetings,” Baruch said.
The termination did not come from the FPFC’s executive committee, which is responsible for her employment, he said.
“I think it’s just orchestrated by two to three guys that are doing this.”
Barach said he informed the council on Oct. 25 that Mace planned to return to work on Oct. 28, but he received an e-mail stating that the board of directors had terminated her employment.
“The decision was made previously and is not in any way related to her medical leave or her retention of your firm,” the e-mail said, according to Baruch.
“I’ve got to get to the bottom of it,” he said, adding that he intends to file a lawsuit on Mace’s behalf.
Baruch said Mace is seeking economic damages that resulted from her job loss and emotional distress as well as attorney’s fees, but she does not want her job back.
FPFC representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.