Amy's Kitchen responds to accusation of sexual misconduct by Bay Area manager

An Amy's Kitchen manager at its San Jose plant has been accused of sexual misconduct by several employees.

An Amy's Kitchen manager at its San Jose plant has been accused of sexual misconduct by several employees.

Courtesy of Amy's Kitchen

After it was reported Amy's Kitchen employees alleged sexual misconduct by a factory floor manager at its San Jose facility — and unprofessional actions by the human resources department to handle the accusations — the company has "commissioned an independent, third-party firm to assess our human resources procedures," SFGATE learned on Thursday afternoon. An Amy's Kitchen spokesperson said the frozen food company hopes the third-party assessment will advise on improvements to its internal HR processes.

"Amy's Kitchen has robust protocols in place to protect our employees and is committed to investigating all human resource claims in a timely, thorough, and objective manner," the spokesperson told SFGATE by email. "While we believe our processes have been followed, the allegations that have been raised are deeply concerning and do not reflect the safe, supportive work environment we intend to create."

In July, Amy’s Kitchen, which is based in the Bay Area, said it would be closing its San Jose plant — which employed over 300 workers — by September. Now, Eater is reporting that the closure of the plant comes at a time when the San Jose employees were in the midst of organizing a union, as well as alleging “a pattern of sexually inappropriate behavior” by one floor manager.

“He puts his hand inside [his coat] and talks to the girls, [we] can see that he’s touching himself," a factory worker told Eater. The workers also alleged that the human resources department did not “sufficiently act on complaints of harassment,” according to Eater.

The factory worker, who was granted anonymity by Eater during their reporting, said that after submitting a complaint to HR describing what she had seen (which should have been confidential) the manager in question asked her into his office and wrote her up, allegedly saying, “I’m going to give it to you, because I heard you were talking about me going out with the youngest people.”

Maria said an HR employee brought both her and the supervisor into the same room to speak about the situation. Maria said she then denied what she had seen out of fear of retribution. “She put me on the spot and I thought that was really, really unprofessional of her,” she said of the HR manager at Amy’s, who was not named in Eater’s article. “I don’t know what tactic she was doing or what, but I feel like they’re all in it together.”

A month ago, Fred Scarpulla, acting CEO and chief culinary officer, claimed the closure of the plant was related to rising costs in the supply chain. He told the Mercury News, “With the inflation that’s going on, we had a huge increase in costs. We had supply chain disruptions, we experienced a lot of staff turnover and labor shortages. A lot of things disrupted production and created startup problems.”

The company, which is based in Petaluma, has been in hot water recently for alleged poor working conditions at the Santa Rosa facility. In January, workers reported “living in pain” due to unsafe equipment and repeated stress related injuries. Just last week, Amy’s Kitchen was fined $25,000 by California regulators for safety regulation infractions that had been found at the beginning of the year.