Coca-Cola Co. has found itself at the receiving end of a lawsuit from another disgruntled former employee. Robert Lowe, who used to be vice-president at the drinks giant, has filed a lawsuit against Coke, claiming that he was dismissed for complaining about a cover-up of the company's use of defective, mouldy beverage dispensers and improper accounting for missing equipment.

Lowe, who sued in the US District Court in Atlanta on Wednesday last week, is accusing Coke of fraud and age discrimination.

A spokesman for Coke dismissed the claims as false, adding that they had already been rejected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Labour Department. The spokesman said that Lowe, 49, did not raise the allegations until after he was dismissed.

Coke spent most of last year embroiled in a lawsuit filed by Matthew Whitley, a former finance director, who had claimed for wrongful dismissal, which he claimed occurred after he revealed alleged fraud and other wrongdoing in the soft drink company.

In October, Whitley agreed to dismiss his complaints against the company in return for a package that includes US$100,000, the severance benefits to which he is entitled, estimated at US$140,000, and his attorney's fees of $300,000.