Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 18, 2014

Fast food manager fired after photo posted online

Dec 02, 2013

DES MOINES (AP) — The manager of an Iowa fast food business lost her job after a customer posted a photo of the woman making food in the kitchen while sweaty and barefoot from mowing the grass outside the restaurant.

The Des Moines Register reports 31-year-old Melinda Halvorsen was fired from the Taco John’s restaurant in Charles City in August after 5.5 years there.

Halvorsen recently lost her appeal to collect unemployment benefits because officials ruled she violated health codes and hurt the restaurant’s business.

State records indicate Halvorsen came directly into the kitchen and prepared food after mowing the grass. Franchise owner Linda Johnson said security footage showed that Halvorsen also didn’t pay for the food she made for herself and her friends that day.

The customer that posted the photo on Facebook said she had asked to talk to the manager only to learn that the sweaty woman in the kitchen was the manager.

The photo was reposted numerous times online. It generated more than 1,000 negative comments and a local television news story.

Johnson said business has declined more than 25 percent since the Aug. 8 incident, and Taco John’s has said Johnson may lose the franchise.

Both Johnson and Halvorsen testified at the hearing on unemployment benefits, but they didn’t respond to the Des Moines Register’s interview requests.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals also checked out the complaint and found evidence to support it, but the restaurant wasn’t sanctioned because Johnson had already taken action.

The Taco John’s passed a routine health inspection a month before the incident with only a few violations, such as mold in the ice machine and a lack of sanitizer at the utensil-washing station.

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