It is no longer a rarity to find businesses in Washington state and across the country cutting corners on the enforcement of COVID-19 safety guidelines. Whether on purpose or inadvertently, doing so puts the health of customers, employees and the wider community at risk of contracting coronavirus, and employers who have been caught and refused to follow the rules have received hefty fines.
In Pullman, Washington, a Domino’s Pizza allegedly went a few steps further. A seven-page complaint from a worker at the Domino’s sent to the Daily Evergreen newspaper at Washington State University alleges several COVID-19 safety violations at the franchise, in addition to allegedly pressuring workers to skip breaks during long shifts and forcing them to chip in on a fund for salaried workers. If true, the latter would violate state labor laws.
The author of the complaint and several current and former employees at the Pullman Domino’s wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation.
Jodie Brotherton, one of the former employees who went on record, said workers were told to sign a document verifying they had been trained on proper sanitation practices when they had not been trained. An anonymous employee who still worked at the Domino’s told the student newspaper that managers routinely fail to enforce sanitation protocols, falling well short of the claim posted in the front of the stare that the pizza place is sanitized hourly.
Other alleged COVID-19 safety violations include allowing employees who contracted the virus to continue working after they exhibited symptoms and allowing employees and managers to continue coming into work despite knowing that their roommates were in quarantine following tests for the virus.
“In the end, everyone [whose roommates were quarantining]tested negative, but the point is that they had no plan, no course of action on what to do if most of management did get sick,” an anonymous worker told the Daily Evergreen.
One of the more insidious allegations involved the mistreatment of delivery drivers, who often barely turn a profit from the job after paying for gas and vehicle maintenance and repairs.
Drivers at the Pullman store are expected to “tip out,” or contribute part of their tips to the in-store staff at the end of their shifts, according to Christopher Kinnaird. With that in mind, managers allegedly give larger delivery orders to drivers who are known to tip out, in expectation that a larger portion of the tips at the end of the shift will go to inside workers.
“Some of us drivers are really poor … and sometimes we can’t afford to tip out,” Kinnaird said. “We shouldn’t be punished for that, it should all be anonymous.”
Two employees at the Pullman Domino’s said they filed complaints against against their employer with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of Washington state Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). The Domino’s has not been cited by investigators.
Another anonymous worker at the Pullman Domino’s alleges that employees are guilted for requesting breaks, even if they have had only 30 minutes of rest during a 12-hour shift. Employees who requested the breaks are accused of “sinking the ship” or “not being a team player,” according to a former delivery driver who said he was fired for not tipping out.
If your employer has put your safety at risk, violated wage, hour or other employment laws, call Emery Reddy. You won’t get better advice.