"Anybody that feels discriminated against will definitely be part of the lawsuit," says Arcadier. "Right now we have 40 plaintiffs, including current and former employees, and the numbers are growing." Arcadier predicts that 600 people will be affected by these lawsuits.
He also filed two Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) lawsuits against Winn-Dixie on behalf of those people who were discriminated against while on medical leave.
"Numerous attorneys from all over Florida are now sending me these cases and more and more people are coming forward," says Arcadier. "The word is out that retaliation is illegal so people are less afraid to formally complain--at least 10 of our clients are still current Winn-Dixie employees.
"Winn-Dixie came out of bankruptcy in 2006 and (in my opinion) it was during this time that CEO Peter Lynch decided to target the older employees who were making more money and replacing them with minimum wage employees," says Arcadier. "And they were reclassifying full-time employees as part-time which also meant they wouldn't get any benefits."
Arcadier is representing a former African-American manager who was told by Winn-Dixie to "get rid of the African-Americans first". Astonishingly, when he wouldn't comply, he was fired.
In 1998, a class action lawsuit was filed against Winn Dixie and they settled for $33 million. The supermarket chain was sued again, two years later. "In 2000, we sued Winn-Dixie store manager Mark Nyquist because he retaliated against an employee who complained about discrimination," explains Arcadier. " We got a jury verdict for $675,000."
After that, Nyquist was promoted to district manager where he now oversees 25 stores! "Not only is he still working there and he got promoted, he is the reason why this current lawsuit was started—he is one of the principals allegedly responsible for the newest discrimination class action lawsuit," says Arcadier.
Winn-Dixie says the company has an anti-discrimination policy. According to a report from Florida Today (October 10, 2007), the supermarket stated that "Winn-Dixie has an effective and well-communicated policy that prohibits harassment and discrimination in the workplace, as well as retaliation against those who raise concerns under the policy."
Astrid Bickers, one of Arcadier's clients, said in an affidavit that when she worked as a meat-cutter at Winn-Dixie's Harrison Street store from 2004 to 2006, management treated her and other female employees--especially older women-- "disparagingly".
Another former Winn-Dixie employee told Florida Today that "It seemed like management was systematically trying to force out "older women and minorities."