Whistleblower Dan Baxter didn’t get heat, but he did get fired.
According to a report by King 5’s Jesse Jones, the Pizza Time employee who contacted the press about the owners forcing employees to work without heat has been terminated. According to franchise owner and husband-of-the-boss Luke Benjamin, the firing was “amicable” (meaning that the Benjamins won’t contest Baxter’s unemployment compensation application).
While whistleblower stories make for great drama, don’t look for Russell Crowe to portray Dan Baxter any time soon. The employee, who was already suspended, not only initiated and starred in Jones’ initial story, he actively fanned the flames of outrage that ensued with aggressive posting of Internet comments against his employers. Once the story rose to fever pitch, Baxter seemingly tried to cash in on his 15 minutes of fame. In one comment left on the first Pizza Time post on FranchisePick.Com, Baxter wrote:
Jan 3, 2009 at 5:33 pm
I am the manager of that store and the one seen on king 5 (go to king5.com) and was fired over this any donations (money, job offers, legal aid) would be appreciated contact king 5 or email me [deleted] I am not the only worker who has been suspended or fired over this.
Baxter was an active participant in the 300+ comment discussion that followed the original King 5 story. Many of the comments called for a boycott and picketing of the much-maligned pizza shop. In one comment, Dan Baxter posted his email address as P-O-P-E@[withheld].net. Coincidentally, an active commenter named POPE posted a humorously awkward extortion attempt on the King 5 site:
At this point our advice to the owners is to offer them employees especially Dan and John a settlement and don’t think that it will work unless it is in the 10s of thousands. Unlawful punishment of an employee for complaining about a safety hazard(cold) is against the law. Check the regulations. Harassing workplace is a class action lawsuit. On top of all that employee/employer confidentiallity was violated by the owner when she aired dirty laundry publicly that is now widespread on the internet. Lawsuit again and john has a liable/defamation of character suit because he has no criminal record. Not to mention a lawsuit for keeping employee tips. If you want to save your business settle this quickly before it ends up in the courts. Dan is an employee of 10 years. That is a career employee. Has anyone ever seen a lawsuit where an employer is ordered to pay an employee for the rest of his life. What a can of worms.
With phrases like “Harassing workplace is a class action lawsuit” and “a liable/defamation of character suit,” one would hope that POPE’s not planning a career impersonating attorneys.
With lines like “…offer them employees especially Dan and John a settlement and don’t think that it will work unless it is in the 10s of thousands” and “If you want to save your business settle this quickly…” a career as an extortionist is probably out, too.
Though prison does have one advantage: Free heat.
Also read: Franchise Pick: Franchisee From Hell! Awards: Luke Benjamin, Pizza Time, Franchise Pick: Can the Lacey Pizza Time be Saved from Itself? What do you Think?, BizLevity: Dirty Franchising, The Sequel, They Had The (Pizza) Time Of Their Lives , Leadership Turn: Leaders From Hell Win Award, The Seattle Traveller: Lacey Pizza Time Feels the Heat but Employees Don’t, Small Business Boomers: Boss From Hell? Or Frustrated, Cost-Conscious Employer?, BrandCurve: Pizza Time, or Hypothermia Time?
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Tags: controversy, Dan Baxter, employee, franchisee, gretchen benjamin, Lacey, luke benjamin, pizza franchise, PIZZA TIME, sean kelly, WA