With a reputation as a model workplace for employees, Dick’s Drive-ins has been cited by state investigators for health and safety violations stemming from worker complaints made earlier this year about two of the popular chain’s locations including the bustling Broadway drive-in.
Workers rights advocacy group Working Washington announced the August 4th citations heading into Labor Day weekend.
CHS reported here in March on the complaints made by five former and current employees alleging failure to enforce mask-wearing by both employees and customers, inconsistent hand-washing requirements, mold contamination, and failure to adequately sanitize. The complaints also say thin plastic gloves provided to employees can melt and have sent at least one employee to the emergency room with burns. The complaints were centered on the Broadway and Lower Queen Anne locations of the popular chain.
But the state Department of Labor & Industries findings (PDF) provided by Working Washington show seven serious citations stemming from the complaints including a determination Dick’s “did not enforce social distancing (6 feet or more) and/or masking requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Under terms of the citations, Dick’s has until September 6th to comply with requirements and faces $35,000 in fines.
The citations and fines come after the chain has kept its location opens throughout the pandemic. Early in the crisis, the Broadway drive-in’s customers had to do without fries. At the time, Dick’s said the temporary menu change was due to the challenge at implementing social distancing guidelines in the small space inside the Broadway drive-in’s kitchen.
Working Washington, meanwhile, focused its announcement of the state citations on the bigger picture around worker safety. “Under our current labor standards enforcement system, workers simply do not yet have the tools to adequately enforce our state’s labor standards and protect their health & safety,” the group’s statement reads.
The Dick’s burger chain has maintained a reputation for providing fair wages and benefits for its workers and has been held up as an example, by some, of how the private sector can provide quality jobs without increased regulation. The Spady family remains in control of the 67-year-old Seattle chain.
In 2013, Dick’s Broadway celebrated 60 years on the street.
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