Pizza employees ordered to work in the cold
06:00 PM PST on Friday, January 2, 2009
By JESSE JONES / KING 5 News
Video: Pizza shop owner cuts off store heat
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LACEY, Wash. – Employees of a pizza delivery shop say the owners has cut off the heat in the store. And they say if the workers don’t like it, they can leave.
Dan Baxter, who works at the Pizza Time in Lacey, says he expects to be fired for talking to KING 5 News about this.
“When it’s really, really cold, like when it’s 19 (degrees) outside, it will be 25 in the store,” said Baxter.
So what about using the ovens to heat the place?
“The ovens create a little bit of heat, but the exhaust fans pull it all out,” said Baxter.
Baxter says the employees were once allowed to keep the heat around 55 degrees, but one night, they forgot to shut the furnace off after work.
That was the end of the heat at the store.
“He said we have to deal with it. They are not going to do anything about it. They know it’s cold,” said Baxter.
The message left by the owner was put on a white board for all to see. Baxter even took a picture of it. It reads:
“If you don’t want to work here quit, otherwise shut up and do your job. The next person I hear complaining is off for two weeks. We don’t have heat!! You guys screwed up, not us. You want to blame someone, look in the mirror.”
Owner Luke Benjamin stands by his chilly stance.
“They know where they work. If they can’t deal with it then there are plenty of other jobs out there,” said Benjamin.
The temperature was 55 degrees when we went in on Friday, but we saw something else. There’s a space heater in the office where Benjamin’s wife – the real boss – runs her accounting business.
Then we get to the real truth of the matter.
“It doesn’t look good, but she’s my wife and my boss and she tells me what she’s going to do and I’m not going to argue with her,” said Benjamin.
Baxter will not apologize for his actions.
“I can’t apologize for something that I don’t think I’ve done wrong ,” said Baxter.
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries says there is no law regarding the temperature of a room you have to work in, unless you’re working in extreme situations like cold storage or foundries.