E-cigarette giant Juul denied the claims of a former executive that he was fired in retaliation for raising issues regarding contaminated pods that were sold by the company.
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"Mr. [Siddharth] Breja's claims are baseless," the company told FOX Business. "He was terminated in March 2019 because he failed to demonstrate the leadership qualities needed in his role."
"The allegations concerning safety issues with Juul products are equally meritless, and we already investigated the underlying manufacturing issue and determined the product met all applicable specifications," Juul said. "The company will vigorously defend this lawsuit."
Breja, who was a senior vice president of global finance for Juul, alleged in his lawsuit — filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California — that the company sold a million contaminated mint-flavored e-cigarette nicotine pods, BuzzFeed News reports.
Juul Labs Inc. signage is seen in the window of a store in San Francisco, California, on Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
"Mr. Breja became aware of very concerning actions at the company, and he performed his duty to shareholders and to the board by reporting these issues internally," Breja's lawyer, Harmeet Dhillon, told BuzzFeed. "In exchange for doing that, he was inappropriately terminated. This is very concerning, particularly since some of the issues he raised concerned matters of public safety."
The company's chief marketing officer Craig Brommers is leaving, the company announced on Tuesday. Juul said that he asked to leave to "pursue other opportunities" and that it would be eliminating the CMO position altogether going forward.
The company told FOX Business that it had been hiring 300 people a month this year — until September.
FOX Business' Ken Martin contributed to this report.