Ex-Harvest employees file suit against the marijuana firm, alleging violations

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Two former employees of Arizona-based Harvest Health & Recreation have sued the multistate cannabis operator, alleging they were forced out after alerting management the business had committed multiple violations of state law.

The lawsuits, filed April 23 in Arizona Superior Court in Maricopa County, contain parallel allegations of a “continuous pattern of activity which violates (state) law.”

The suit by former store operations manager Trina Keith alleges she was privy to a wide array of “compliance issues” regarding Harvest’s operations.

The suit by new store opener Mollie McCurdy parallels many of the same allegations.

A Harvest spokesman disputed the claims, saying the company had “thoroughly investigated” the allegations and would “vigorously” defend itself in court.

According to the lawsuits, Harvest’s violations include:

  • Two separate employee procedure manuals: one to satisfy Arizona state inspectors and another for the actual daily operations.
  • Employees lacking legally required state ID badges to work in Harvest-owned cannabis shops in Arizona, Arkansas and California.
  • Improper inventory procedures that failed to properly track sales of all non-marijuana flower.
  • Improper storage of excess inventory in cannabis store ceilings and a manager’s office stemming from secure storage rooms being full.
  • False-advertising claims stating that all cannabis products sold were lab-tested when much of the flower sold had not been tested.
  • Encouragement by Harvest management to “bend a little” on compliance issues to maximize company profits.

Both lawsuits also refer to a Harvest manager in Arkansas, Nicholas Nielsen, who “allegedly was growing marijuana in his own home to help support Harvest cultivation operations.”

Nielsen was arrested at his home in Jonesboro, Arkansas, by local police and, according to the lawsuit, “faces various criminal charges.” He couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The two women resigned earlier this year. But they claim in their lawsuits they were forced to do so because of circumstances created by Harvest that would have required them to break the law to maintain their employment.

Both are requesting jury trials and punitive damages.

Harvest denied any wrongdoing, a company spokesman wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily.

“Harvest is aware of the complaints of these former employees. We have thoroughly investigated their allegations and dispute their legal claims,” wrote Alex Howe, Harvest’s head of corporate communications.

“Harvest is comfortable with its position and will be vigorously defending against these lawsuits.”