Dick’s Drive-in is the latest Washington state business to face scrutiny for allegedly failing to comply with COVID-19 safety and health guidelines and pressuring employees to work after they were exposed to the virus.
Five employees from the burger joint’s Capitol Hill and Queen Anne locations filed health and safety complaints with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), which administers the state’s workers’ compensation claims for employees who are injured or fall ill in the workplace.
The complaints allege poor sanitation practices and a failure to comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines, including failure to isolate people who may have become infected with coronavirus, hand washing violations, ignoring social distancing guidelines and exposure to maskless customers, according to KING 5 news.
Chelsea Young, a representative of Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants, told KING 5 that the company received notice of the complaints filed with L&I last week and has started an investigation of its own.
“Our rating with the King County Health Department is excellent and that includes our COVID safety protocols for employees and customers,” according to a statement from the company.
Like many food establishments in the state, the safety oversight allegations at Dick’s are not unique. In December, a worker at a Domino’s Pizza in Pullman, Washington sent a seven-page complaint to the school newspaper at Washington State University alleging several COVID-19 safety violations, in addition to allegedly pressuring workers to skip breaks during long shifts and forcing them to chip in on a fund for salaried workers.
Washington’s agriculture industry has come under fire for numerous L&I investigations over the past year, many of which have resulted in hefty fines. In January, Yakima-area Evans Fruit Co. Inc. was fined $156,000 for “willful and serious” COVID-19 mask and social distancing violations.
Gebbers Farm Operations, LP, one of the biggest apple and cherry producers in the Pacific Northwest, was cited with more than $2 million in fines months earlier.
If your employer has put your safety at risk, violated wage, hour, L&I or other employment laws, call Emery Reddy. You won’t get better advice.