A former New York City area Shake Shack employee is suing the burger chain after alleging that he was fired for bringing attention to supposed safety and health code violations.
Derrick Via, of New Jersey, was employed by the burger chain for five years before filing a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court against Shake Shack claiming that his bosses terminated him for complaints about food safety compliance at his location.
A spokesperson for the chain told The Daily Meal that Shake Shack takes food safety seriously. “Shake Shack’s food handling and workplace safety procedures are the cornerstone of our company,” the spokesperson said. “And that’s because the wellbeing of our guests and our employees always comes first. The lawsuit in question is without merit.”
The New York Post reported that the food issues Via claims to have witnessed included “a failure to provide employees … with any training on food allergies or preparing food for customers with allergies; an ongoing policy of allowing visibly sick workers to remain on the job, handling and preparing food for customers; improper cleaning techniques of the location’s kitchen and equipment — and a failure to properly investigate and respond to an incident where a Shake Shack worker was scalded by hot water and suffered serious burns.”
Via says that after reporting these issues several times and ultimately asking to be transferred, he was let go.
According to the lawsuit, Shake Shack terminated Via’s employment for “stealing” another employee’s phone. Via claims he returned the cellphone to the employee later that day.
Via is seeking $1 million in damages and alleges emotional distress and suffering.
The Daily Meal will continue to update this story with any new developments.
If you’re going to order from Shake Shack, be sure to order off their secret menu!