'The Feces Incident': Former Jesuit Retreat House Employee Alleges Retaliation After Reporting Cook's Apparent Bad Hygiene That Sickened St. Ignatius Students

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A former maintenance man at Parma's Jesuit Retreat House Of Cleveland is suing his former employer and his bosses in federal court, alleging retaliation and labor violations for unpaid overtime hours.

It all started, he and his lawyers say, in December 2012 when he noticed a "foul smell," a cook leaving the bathroom that then had feces around the toilet, wall, floor, and door, and a sink that apparently hadn't been used to wash the cook's hands. That cook then prepared food for St. Ignatius students and Jesuit Retreat House employees and several became ill with a "norovirus outbreak" because of it, the suit says.

Oberg says he reported the shit-filled bathroom scene and the cook's unwashed hands to Jesuit Retreat House bosses before and after the food was served, and cooperated with Ohio Department of Health investigators despite JRH executive director Sister Mary Ann Flannery telling him to "play dumb." Because he refused to drop it, he alleges retaliation against him through when he was fired this summer. He also alleges labor law violations for not being compensated for the hours he worked beyond 40 hours per week.

He's suing the Jesuit Retreat House and its executive director Sister Mary Ann Flannery, and his supervisors George Mravetz, Rick Rivanka and Barbara Leggot. You can read the full suit below but, really, the most interesting part here is the "Feces Incident" described in the beginning of the suit (emphasis ours):

21. In or around December of 2012, Oberg was working near a restroom when he observed a cook named [Redacted by Scene] hurriedly leave the restroom and return to JRH's kitchen, where she was preparing dinner for students visiting JRH from St. Ignatius High School.

22. Shortly after seeing [cook] leaving the restroom, Oberg noticed a foul smell ("Foul Smell").

23. When Oberg entered the restroom to investigate the Foul Smell, he observed that [cook] had become ill and had left feces on the toilet, wall, floor, and door ("Feces Incident").

24. Oberg observed that [cook] appeared to not have used the sink to was her hands after the Feces Incident.

25. Oberg immediately reported the Feces Incident to Mravetz, who told Oberg to "leave it."

26. Shortly after the Feces Incident, several St. Ignatius students and JRH employees became ill with the Norovirus (Norovirus Outbreak).

27. Upon learning about the Norovirus Outbreak, Oberg made a written complaint to JRH's Director, Sister Mary Ann Flannery, connecting the Feces Incident with the Norovirus Outbreak.

28. As a result of the Norovirus Outbreak, the Ohio Department of Health ("ODH") began an investigation ("Investigation").

29. During the Investigation, ODH investigators asked JRH employees if they had seen anything that could have caused the Norovirus Outbreak.

30. Shortly after the Investigation began, JRH's executive director, Sister Mary Ann Flannery, told Oberg to "act dumb" and to not say anything to ODH investigators about the FECES Incident.

31. Oberg complained about being required to lie to ODH investigators ("Obstruction Complaints").

32. The Obstruction Complaints were made orally and in writing.

33. When Oberg was approached by ODH Investigators, he reported the Feces Incident.

34. When ODH investigators asked Sister Flannery about the Feces Incident, she told investigators "Scott exaggerates."

35. As a result of Oberg's reporting the Feces Incident to ODH investigators, they examined the restroom [cook] had used before the Norovirus Outbreak.

36. Upon information and belief, ODH found feces particles throughout the restroom, including on the keyboard of a keyboard JRH kept in the restroom.

37. Upon information and belief, ODH confirmed that the Feces Incident was the source of the Norovirus Outbreak.

38. Upon information and belief, ODH cited JRH for violations related to the Feces Incident.

39. Upon information and belief, ODH cited JRH for keeping a computer in the restroom.

Read the suit here:

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