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Tampa chef accused of working after positive coronavirus test, suit says

Two former employees said they were fired for refusing to work with the executive chef a day after they were notified he tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a lawsuit.
An aerial view of the Hillsborough County Courthouse Annex in downtown Tampa. Employees at Nutrition Solutions in Tampa said they were fired after they expressed concern about working with the executive chef who had tested positive for COVID-19, according to lawsuits filed in Hillsborough County.
An aerial view of the Hillsborough County Courthouse Annex in downtown Tampa. Employees at Nutrition Solutions in Tampa said they were fired after they expressed concern about working with the executive chef who had tested positive for COVID-19, according to lawsuits filed in Hillsborough County.
Published Dec. 30, 2020

The morning after employees were told the head chef at Nutrition Solutions in Tampa had tested positive for the coronavirus, they walked in to see him still at work.

When the employees refused to bring in a truckload of food and enter the building where Executive Chef Mark Davis had been working, he fired all six workers, according to two lawsuits filed in Hillsborough County this month.

The two culinary supervisors who were fired, Shayne Wanstall and Tavaris Reynolds, are suing CSC Productions LLC, which operates the company where they worked, Nutrition Solutions. Based in Tampa, Nutrition Solutions creates meal plan programs meant for fitness and muscle growth, according to its website.

The company did not immediately return multiple requests for comment by email and phone call. Davis’ Instagram account, “chefmark_nutritionsolutions,” linked in a prior video on the company’s Instagram page, has been deleted. Attempts to reach Davis for comment by phone, email, and social media were not successful.

Wanstall and Reynolds received an email from management on Oct. 26 notifying them that Davis had tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the suit. On Oct. 27, they both arrived at 4 a.m. for their shift and saw Davis leave the kitchen, which had been left “in a filthy state,” with “dirty food preparation tables” and “no sanitizer available,” according to the complaint.

When Davis returned with a truck full of food to unload, the employees expressed their discomfort working with him. Davis said if they didn’t bring the food into the building they would be fired and wouldn’t have to worry about coming back, according to the complaint.

Along with Wanstall and Reynolds, the complaint says employees named Mark, Alesha, Regina and Dorothy Fontenot were fired. The suit did not list all their full names. Fontenot also did not respond to calls requesting comment.

Lawyers representing Wanstall and Reynolds declined to comment.

The suit claims that the fired employees were retaliated against under Florida’s Whistleblower Act. The complaint said Davis’ actions were prohibited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Florida State Statute standards, and their refusal should be protected.

Nutrition Systems was temporarily shut down by the state in May 2019 after failing a health code inspection, at which point they brought in Davis to help fix the problems, according to state records. Since then it has passed inspection standards, according to the Florida Department of Business Regulation.