Burger King Faces A Whopper Of A Lawsuit

Submitted by Darren Smith, weekend contributor

150px-burger_king_logosvgAccording to a lawsuit, a Customer claims that he suffered an assault with a deadly weapon after asking a restaurant employee to reheat the cold onion rings he received.

The alleged incident at Bloomfield, NM happened in June of 2013 where the plaintiff states he asked the manager to reheat the onion rings. The restaurant’s manager, Francisco Barrera reportedly told another employee in Spanish “…he doesn’t even know what I’m going to return it and do whatever I want to it and he’ll still eat it…” The plaintiff understood Spanish and after hearing this he then requested a refund on the rings.

The manager refused the refund request and later, according to the lawsuit, he then confronted the plaintiff and lunged at him with a Taser in one hand and a switchblade in the other. Police arrived and arrested Barrera, charging him with Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff claims the Burger King franchisee negligently hired Barrera. Plaintiff claims the group owning the Bloomfield location had other incidents such as this at several other restaurants in New Mexico. Such incidents allegedly included putting marijuana in hamburgers served to law enforcement officers and food adulterated with dish sanitizer at the Bloomfield location.

Reportedly, Barrera has been violent with other employees and customers in the past. Barrera pleaded guilty to the Aggravated Battery charge.

The lawsuit certainly highlights the importance of restaurants screening applicants and not just blindly hiring whoever walks in the door. The labor costs in hiring questionable employees are more than negated by not properly supervising their actions. Incidents such as this, especially if regularly reported in the national news, compromise the goodwill and brand internationally. It might be time for the parent corporation of Burger King to require more stringent employee management within contracts with franchisees.

By Darren Smith



The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

26 thoughts on “Burger King Faces A Whopper Of A Lawsuit”

  1. The ‘gentleman’ arrested is described as the manager. That would indicate that he had not only been employed there for a while, but had received a couple of promotions. What was the owner thinking?

  2. You should all be eating out of your gardens, staying right at home, and shutting it in the Sam Hill uppy.

  3. DBQ, Civil cases, as you know, are always about insurance money. This is a matter involving the franchisee. I’m sure there’s enough insurance coverage for the alleged damages of the plaintiff, so I doubt they will climb the corporate ladder. I’m not an attorney but I play one on TV.

  4. It’s a dilemma. BK whoppers are a favorite, but I’m leery of what goes on back there. Smart fast food restaurants – such as a McDonalds in my neighborhood – have the kitchen in open view of the public so we can at least tell ourselves we see how the employees prepare the food.

  5. My nephew worked for KFC many years ago. I haven’t been at KFC since. I find the McDonald’s rest rooms to be clean and handy when I’m traveling. Their coffee is acceptable when ice is added to cool it a bit. Otherwise, I avoid fast food places. Of course, I don’t know what goes on in the kitchens where I do eat.

    1. bettykath – On West Wing they do not spike their coffee with ice cubes. 🙂

  6. Actual legal question, because I’m not a lawyer. ????

    But if the franchises are owned and operated by independent persons, wouldn’t the lawsuit be on that person and not necessarily the entire Burger King company? I mean. There are probably rules and regulations and brand issues that the franchisee signs onto, but I don’t see how you can hold the entire company responsible for the poor personnel management choices.

    Does the company hold periodic inspection of the franchise locations?

    It just seems to me that the responsible entity is the lease/owner of the franchise and is the person responsible for hiring and overseeing the employees.

    1. DBQ – I think there was just a case on this issue and I cannot remember the outcome. I vaguely, but possibly incorrectly remember, that the company is NOT responsible for the behavior of the franchisee. If it is a company store, they are on the hook. And there is always the bad press attached to the case.

  7. I agree with Karen S. above. You all have a criminal history. You don’t all get caught for your mistakes. Dog is up there watching.

  8. Plus I also feel it should be the boss’s prerogative on whether he’s willing to give someone with a criminal history a chance.

    Finding a job when you have a bad criminal history must be tough.

  9. I think it depends on the job and the criminal history.

    A contractor can’t hire a convicted thief or a racist and then send him out to people’s homes. He would be liable and negligent.

  10. This lawsuit shows the push and pulls of hiring people w/ criminal records. When I was a Vista volunteer I worked @ a halfway house getting recently released prisoners jobs. Not an easy task. Then, when I became a PI I worked cases just like this where employers hire someone w/ a checkered past and get burned for it. I see both sides pretty clearly.

  11. I worked in a kitchen in NYC back in the1970’s. It was in a small private club (it closed many years ago) that judges and lawyers belonged to. When a judge complained that the steak he was served was too tough, the cook went crazy. He took the new piece of meat and threw it all over the kitchen. The floor, walls, and even stomped on it! He rinsed it off and cooked it, served it to the judge. The judge said it was the most tender steak he ever ate.

    On another occasion, same judge, complained because we did not have any more twice baked potatoes. The same cook went out to the dumpster, found a baked potatoe skin not eaten and filled it with the potatoe fillings found in the trash. He topped it with butter and put it under the broiler and it was served to the judge. Again, the judge said it was delicious.

    I was traumatized by those two scenes and for many years, I never complained about the food in a restaurant. I am still very careful about it now, many years later.

  12. Maybe if they paid a decent wage they would have people who understand more about customer service and company loyalty. I am astounded at the numbers of employees who are paid these meager wages but maintain standards and customer service ideals.

  13. Damn,I thought the worst thing they would do if you complained about the temperature of doneness of your food was spit in it, reheat it and give it back to you with a smile.

  14. And yet, there is a Liberal movement to make Criminal Background Checks Illegal. And in many employment positions, unions make it near impossible to fire employees for cause.

    This is exactly why I oppose both.

    And knowing Spanish really does come in handy.

    In this case, something really seems amiss in the Burger King hiring methods.

    Fred – that’s awful. They really need to tell management – that’s senior abuse. Seniors can have weakened immune systems, so filthy meat could kill them.

  15. Disgusting, but unfortunately not surprising. It is has been a long time since I have been in a Burger King, and now it will be a lot longer.

  16. Fred Dunham – most people would not eat anywhere if they knew what went on in the back end. 🙂 However, teenagers are teenagers, and that food hockey is probably not a game approved by management.

    I am surprised that this went on in New Mexico where so many people speak at least at a little Spanish. I would add ‘hate crime’ to the list.

  17. I no longer eat at any fast food restaurant (and that word is used in error because they are the farthest from being an restaurant) after my sons friend told me that at the local BK, they had a game of playing burger hockey, which was to sweep a cooked hamburger pattie back and forth like a hockey puck and then using it for sale, and they would attempt to sell this hamburger to a senior citizen.

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