CHARLOTTE, N.C. — People from across the country are contacting Channel 9 saying they lost their jobs after drinking a tea promoted for health benefits caused them to fail workplace drug tests.
Eyewitness News anchor Allison Latos broke the nationwide story last month and continues to hear from women who claim the Raspberry Lemonade Iaso Tea from a company called Total Life Changes (TLC) is the reason they failed drug tests.
Eleven people from seven states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas, Florida and Alabama, have reached out to Channel 9 to share their experience.
Brittany Caldwell spent seven years as a school bus driver for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She said it was a job she truly enjoyed.
About a year ago, she saw ads on social media for TLC’s Raspberry Lemonade Iaso Tea. Two weeks after she started drinking it, Caldwell said she failed a random drug test required by CMS. She lost her license and her job.
Tammy Drummond, who works at a dump truck driver, saw the previous news reports. She said she had been drinking the tea for weight loss for nearly a year and when she went to apply for a second job, she failed the drug test.
“I was baffled. I was really baffled,” she said. “I’m thinking this is a joke. Then, I’m feeling embarrassed.”
Kim Agnew worked for Delta Airlines, managing airplane maintenance records. She was also a distributor for TLC. She admits, she used to recommend the Raspberry Lemonade Iaso Tea until she failed a drug test required by the airline and lost her job.
“I said, ‘Ma’am, I don’t smoke,’” she said.
Each of the women have said that they do not smoke marijuana.
“That is the only thing it could have been was the tea,” Caldwell said.
The package label states there is 0.0% THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana that produces a high.
Channel 9 had samples tested at a lab in Durham. The results showed trace amounts of THC, which according to scientists, is enough to cause a failed drug test.
Latos contacted officials at the Food and Drug Administration to ask if any claims involving TLC were being investigated. Agency officials would not confirm or deny any investigation.
Neither would officials with the Federal Trade Commission, but they did tell Latos that under the FTC Act, advertising and product labeling must be truthful, non-deceptive and backed up by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
Channel 9 also contacted the Attorney General in Michigan, where Total Life Changes is headquartered. A representative told Latos that in order to open an investigation, the AG needs formal complaints from customers. So far, no one has taken that step.
But lawsuits are expanding against the company. One of the lawsuits against the company has grown to 19 plaintiffs.
For the first time, they’re going after the CEO saying he was warned the tea contained THC but that he and his company still advertised that it didn’t.
One lawsuit, which was amended last week, blames Jack Fallon saying, “Fallon, as TLC’s CEO, perpetuated the company’s false statements about the THC content in its Raspberry Tea by promoting the Raspberry Tea on his own personal blog and in presentations to Life Changers, despite having personal knowledge that these statements were false.”
Life Changers are the distributors, who sell the Total Life Changes products.
The lawsuit says the company doesn’t require them to undergo any training or have background in nutrition.
The lawsuit also claims over the past few months, Fallon has edited previous social media posts taking out any mention that the raspberry lemonade tea is THC free.
Latos asked TLC to respond to the new claims and, she reached out to the CEO but haven’t heard back.
Currently, there are several class action lawsuits against Total Life Changes over the tea and failed drug tests. One attorney told Channel 9 that she now represents more than a dozen people.
Latos contacted TLC for comment and their spokesperson sent this statement:
“At TLC, we care deeply about our customers and are committed to their well-being. We are in the process of learning more about the relevant facts but are not in a position to report more fully at this time. The Iaso Raspberry Tea product remains available for sale in the United States.”
Drummond said she’d like to see all the women get their jobs back and get an apology.
Caldwell, who now works in Human Resources, wants her story to be a lesson for others.
“Be careful what you’re taking, of course. It can come back and haunt you,” she said.
(WATCH: Women claim weight loss tea led to failed drug tests)
Cox Media Group