GEE AND URSULA

Dick’s Drive-In president investigates employee health and safety complaints

Mar 15, 2021, 4:19 PM | Updated: Mar 18, 2021, 11:08 pm
Dick's Drive-In...
Dick's Drive-In. (AP)
(AP)

The president and CFO of Dick’s Drive-In issued a response to employee complaints that were widely publicized about unsafe working conditions at two of the restaurant’s locations.

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Five workers at the Broadway and Queen Anne locations filed formal complaints with the state Department of Labor & Industries last week. Among the health and safety complaints were: failure to isolate people who may be sick, a lack of access to hot water, disregard for social distancing, exposure to mask-less customers, and mold forming in work areas.

In a written response on Monday, the president of Dick’s Drive-In, Jasmine Donovan, says most of the workers’ claims are “demonstrably without merit.”

“The other allegations could only reference isolated incidents because they would be blatant violations of our procedures, techniques, training and values,” Donovan writes.

Upon learning of the complaints, Donovan told the Gee and Ursula Show that because they were so publicized, “the normal process that would have taken place did not.”

“We found out about them from a press release that was sent out, and we immediately responded to those,” she explained.

 

The burger chain performed unannounced inspections at both locations last week, according to Donovan, and found that workers were in full compliance with all safety procedures and COVID protocols, and no evidence of mold or mildew.

Then, Donovan says they went through each individual claim filed with L&I and verified that they were either not happening or would be extreme violations of procedure.

“We asked our employees broadly. I reached out to all of our employees, and said, ‘hey, would you please let me know if any of this is happening in your restaurant. We really want to know about this or any other concerns that you might have,;” Donovan told Gee and Ursula. “And although I did get responses to that, I didn’t get any corroboration of these things happening on any kind of basis in our restaurants.”

“We did more investigations, we did more education, and had to kind of go through a process,” she continued. “We couldn’t make this big statement right at the beginning because we had to investigate first. And then felt comfortable by Monday that we could confidently share this broadly with everyone.”

In the letter, Donovan says Dick’s also reminded all managers and employees of the zero-tolerance policy for retaliation against employees who bring forward concerns, whether formally or informally.

Dick’s Drive-Ins are regularly inspected by the King County public health department and have maintained the highest “Excellent” rating at all locations, according to Donovan.

KIRO Radio reached out to the Department of Labor and Industries for comment on the investigation.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Dick’s Drive-In president investigates employee health and safety complaints