Lawsuit: Coca-Cola Carrying out Deceptive Business Practices

May 21, 2003 ( - Coca-Cola Co. is allegedly engaged in deceptive marketing, deceptive accounting practices, and peddling tainted products, according to a former employee's recently filed lawsuit.

The suit, filed in Fulton County, Georgia, Superior Court, claims Matthew Whitley, an employee-turned-whistleblower, was terminated after approaching the Atlanta-based company about the alleged misdeeds. “I was a target,” Whitley told CNN/Money in an interview.

Whitley’s lawyer portrayed his client as company veteran who notified management that Coca-Cola had a problem with metal shavings getting into its Frozen Ice Drinks. At the same time, Whitley told company management about an alleged $65-million marketing scheme aimed at getting Burger King to become a Coke customer and the inflation of profits by falsely reporting certain syrup deliveries as sales.

Whitley claims that Coca-Cola turned a blind-eye to his claims, instead letting him go for “maliciously manufacturing a false and fraudulent performance review,” the lawsuit said.

In response to the still under review lawsuit and claims, Coca-Cola painted a different picture. The company says Whitley demanded the company pay him $44 million to keep the lid on his allegations.

“One has to wonder what is motivating him if he is unwilling to wait for the findings of these independent investigations?” Coca-Cola said in its statement. “Maybe he is concerned that the facts will not support his allegations and will undercut his outrageous demand for $44 million.”