Five workers at Dick’s Drive-In have filed formal complaints with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) alleging that workplace conditions at two branches of the Seattle-area hamburger chain are in violation of COVID-19 operations guidelines and other health requirements.

The array of health and safety hazards that workers allege they’ve regularly encountered at the Broadway and Lower Queen Anne locations of Dick’s includes:

  • both customers and co-workers on site failing to wear masks, with little enforcement of face-covering policy by management or security;
  • failure by management to require frequent hand-washing and insufficient time allowed to do so;
  • failure by management to regularly follow a sanitization schedule, with cleaning that does occur carried out with “rags that sit in a bleach and water solution that is infrequently replaced”;
  • insufficient space to allow for social distancing during work;
  • burns from heaters or from inadequate gloves melting, with one worker having gone to the emergency room “multiple times” because of the latter;
  • mold present in work areas that do not receive regular deep cleaning;
  • and loose and/or slippery flooring in kitchen and register areas causing workers to slip and fall.

Per the complaints filed with L&I, all of the workers say that they never received any form of training on COVID-19 signs or symptoms, nor on workplace prevention of the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. One worker alleges that they “have been instructed not to turn away maskless customers … but rather to serve customers faster to avoid prolonged contact.” Another says they and others were pressured to come in to work despite the fact that they were awaiting coronavirus test results. A worker at the Broadway location reported, according to the complaint: “There is mold or mildew in multiple places in the restaurant … including the icebox, the walk-in freezer, and in the dip wells for ice cream scoops.” Another says that “An electrical heater is often placed in the middle of a pool of water” that they must stand in to work at a register.

In a statement to The Seattle Times on Wednesday, Dick’s Drive-In said, “We only received notice of the complaint this afternoon. We take the safety of our employees and our customers very seriously. We are currently investigating this and will share more information as soon as we can. Our rating with the King County Health Department is excellent and that includes our COVID safety protocols for employees and customers.”

The company started in 1954 and now has seven locations, with an eighth one planned for Bellevue. Last month, as part of an announcement of the impending new branch of Dick’s, company president Jasmine Donovan lauded the company’s practices of providing paid health insurance and offering scholarships to employees, and said it was a priority of Dick’s to “provide more opportunity to people, especially during these challenging times.”