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Bumble Bee Foods Files Notice of Removal After Labor Watchdogs’ Accusations of “Inhuman” Labor Practices

A variety of seafood on ice.

Close up of cooled seafood - trout, sockeye, sea bass, in the market of a fish shop, supermarket, horizontal frame, side view

Bumble Bee Foods, LLC filed a notice of removal to bring a March lawsuit filed by plaintiff Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum’s (GLJ-ILRF) case against them to the federal court in the District of Columbia. The plaintiff accused Bumble Bee of unfair and dangerous labor practices in tuna harvesting and transportation of their goods to the U.S.

In the complaint, the GLJ-ILRF noted that “Bumble Bee advertises its products with phrases such as ‘best-in-class culture of safety’ and ‘fair and responsible working conditions’ when, in fact, ‘Bumble Bee sells tuna products caught by laborers who are subjected to inhuman conditions that do not meet the standards Bumble Bee set for itself.’” The defendant countered that “the Complaint does not allege any facts showing that Bumble Bee actually sells tuna sourced from any such laborers, or that Bumble Bee even directly sources tuna from any such laborers.” The GLJ-ILRF claimed that the defendant boasted their best-in-class safety practices yet “[did] not allege” any facts to the contrary, and sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs.

The defendant first justified their removal to the federal court for diversity: the plaintiff is based in the District of Columbia, and the defendant is based in Delaware, so they are citizens of different states which gives “complete diversity.” Next, they countered the plaintiff’s injunctive relief request that “would exceed $75,000.” The defendant argued that since their advertising budget is $12 million dollars, with at least $2 million dollars dedicated to social media, having an injunction forcing them to revise their marketing could cost millions of dollars, far exceeding just $75,000. Furthermore, the attorneys’ fees will also clearly exceed $75,000. Thus, Bumble Bee is removing their case to the District Court for the District of Columbia.

Bumble Bee Foods is represented by Richman Law & Policy.

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