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The Most Popular West Coast Burger Chain Is Accused of Mistreating Its Workers

The chain was "full of sick employees," former employee says.

While lauded as serving the best fast-food burger on the West Coast (and even the country), the customer-favorite In-n-Out doesn't seem to be as beloved by its staff. A new lawsuit brought against the chain by a former employee alleges that In-n-Out violated California labor laws in several ways detrimental to the health and wellbeing of its employees.

Luis Becerra, who worked for the iconic burger brand for five years before being terminated in May of 2020, said that his employer discriminated against him for taking lawful sick leave, failed to pay him wages upon termination, failed to provide accurate wage statements, and failed to provide personnel files in a timely fashion. Furthermore, Becerra alleges the chain did not follow proper safety protocols to protect its workers against COVID-19, noting his workplace was "full of sick employees," according to Law360.

RELATED: This Is Why In-N-Out Burger Will Never Come to the East Coast

"The meat department was full of sick employees, many of whom were exhibiting COVID-19-like symptoms (especially butchers), but defendants did not place them on medical leave," Becerra said.

He claims that In-n-Out ignored COVID-19 risks to its employees when his co-worker, who lost a family member to the virus, wasn't forced to quarantine despite being in close contact with the deceased. Becerra reported the issue to the health department in February 2020 and the department cited the chain for violations, but details of the citation are unclear. According to the claim, Becerra was then retaliated against with an improper termination.

"In-N-Out improperly wrote up Mr. Becerra to falsely use up his sick time in order to fire him," said the complaint, filed last week. "Then, when he reported safety violations, it sealed his fate."

According to Rene Potter, Becerra's lawyer, employees of the chain felt "scared," and his client was "brave enough to report it." Becerra claims he is speaking out for a larger group of former and current In-n-Out employees.

In a statement sent to Eat This, Not That!, In-n-Out denied any wrongdoing.

"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," said Arnie Wensinger, chief legal and business officer for the company. "Due to the fact that this matter involves ongoing litigation, we will unfortunately not be able to comment any further."

In April, fast-casual chain Chipotle was sued by the city of New York for violating workers' rights at several dozen restaurants across the city. The chain had allegedly committed hundreds of thousands of violations involving unreliable work scheduling practices and denied its employees the minimum 40 hours of sick leave mandated by the Paid Safe and Sick Leave law.

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Mura Dominko
Mura is a Deputy Editor leading ETNT's coverage of America's favorite fast foods and restaurant chains. Read more