A former employee is suing In-N-Out, accusing it of violating labor laws and COVID protocols in California

In-N-Out
  • A former In-N-Out employee says he was fired for taking sick time and reporting COVID violations.
  • The chain called the claims “baseless and false.”
  • The employee is seeking payout for each claim of labor law violation through California courts.
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A former In-N-Out employee filed a lawsuit accusing the chain of violating the state labor code and COVID-19 protocols, National Restaurant News reported.

Luis Becerra’s June 7 complaint accuses In-N-Out of retaliation for using sick leave and engaging in protected activities, failing to enforce COVID safety regulations, and not paying wages owed at the end of employment. Becerra worked for In-N-Out for five years until May 2020, when he says he was unfairly terminated.

“At In-N-Out Burger, we have always cared for our associates as if they are our own family and we are disappointed with the baseless and false claims that Mr. Becerra has made in his lawsuit,” the chain’s chief legal and business officer Arnie Wensinger told Insider.

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Becerra claims in the lawsuit that In-N-Out did not enforce the safety measures required by the LA Health Department, including social distancing, personal protective equipment, and placing sick employees on medical leave.

“Mr. Becerra saw all of this going on, so he reported it. … In-N-Out responded by using improper write-ups it had issued against Mr. Becerra for taking short, valid medical leaves as false justification to terminate him.” Becerra’s representative Rene Potter told Law 360.

Becerra said he was fired for taking sick time in May 2020 related to his asthma and that In-N-Out told him the official reason he was terminated was a forged medical note, listing “providing false documentation” and exhausting sick pay. He also said he never received his final paycheck.

Becerra is asking for civil penalties on behalf of himself and other In-N-Out employees for each individual labor code violation in accordance with California law, along with attorney’s fees.

Other fast-food chains have faced accusations of violating labor law related to sick leave over the last year. In April, New York City sued Chipotle, accusing the chain of illegally denying requests for time off and not paying workers for the time they took. The city said that Chipotle owed over $150 million to workers.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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More than 80 employees sickened by COVID-19 outbreak at In-N-Out’s new Colorado locations

In-N-Out Burger
  • At least 80 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at In-N-Out Burger locations in Colorado.
  • The locations, in Aurora and Colorado Springs, just opened last month.
  • “Our thoughts and prayers are with our associates and we are hopeful for quick recoveries for each of these affected,” Denny Warnick, vice president of operations at In-N-Out, said in a statement provided to Insider.
  • Employees who miss work will be paid for missed shifts, the company said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In-N-Out Burger, the iconic fast-food chain with a cult following, opened its first two locations in Colorado last month. Both quickly became the scenes of COVID-19 outbreaks, with 80 employees now sickened and another 25 suspected of having the disease.

The new location in Colorado Springs was the first to be hit, according to the Department of Public Health & Environment, with an outbreak confirmed as of December 6 – just over two weeks after it began serving burgers and fries on November 20. Sixty employees are confirmed to have COVID-19, with another nine considered “probable” cases.

In-N-Out’s other Colorado location, in Aurora, had a confirmed outbreak as of December 17; at least 20 employees have COVID-19 and 16 others are presumed to be infected.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our associates and we are hopeful for quick recoveries for each of these affected,” Denny Warnick, vice president of operations at In-N-Out, said in a statement provided to Insider. He noted that employees who test positive for the coronavirus, as well as those who have been in close contact with them, “have been excluded from the workplace.”

All employees have their temperatures checked before each shift.

Kathleen Luppi, a spokesperson for the company, told Insider that it will continue paying those who are unable to work.

 “Whether an associate in Colorado is excluded from work because they have tested positive themselves, or because they have been in contact with someone who has, they are being paid for their missed shifts,” she said.

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