Subway restaurant owner denies firing employee for giving free cookies

by: John Knicely Updated:

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SEATTLE - On Tuesday afternoon, Carlos Hernandez marched with activists outside the Subway restaurant where he was fired on Capitol Hill. Earlier in the day, fast-food worker activist group Working Washington filed a federal labor complaint on his behalf saying he was fired for striking and pushing for better pay.


When Hernandez was fired in September, he said the Subway district manager told him it's because he gave a cookie to a child for free.That's something Hernandez said he regularly did.

"And I gave cookies before to kids in front of the owner," he said. "And he was, 'Wow, you are very good worker, you give very good customer service.'"

Hernandez said in the instance in front of the owner, he didn't pay for the cookies himself, but most times he paid for them out of his tips because he loves making kids smile. In the instance for which he was fired, Hernandez said he didn't pay because the restaurant was swamped with customers and he was too busy.

Hernandez told KIRO 7 he knows you can legally be fired for giving away a product, but given the owner had previously cheered him for doing it, he's sure he was fired over organizing his co-workers. And he made that case to the manager who fired him.

"(The manager) was like 'Yes, you shouldn't be against us,'" Hernandez said. "But he was very quick to come back and say, 'You cannot give free cookie. So we don't need people like you anymore.'"

KIRO 7 reached the franchise owner, Hasan Zeer. He denied that the firing had anything to do with Hernandez organizing co-workers.

"(Hernandez) worked for me two months after the first strike, and the second strike he worked a week and a half," said Zeer. "It's nothing to do with that. All my employees who went on strike are still working with me."

Hernandez, 21, is a community college student from Honduras in Seattle on a green card. This isn't the first time he's been fired. Hernandez told KIRO 7 he was fired from a Seattle Chipotle after pushing for better pay for o-workers. He said in that case he was told he was fired because his attitude had gotten bad.

The complaint against Subway and Zeer is now on file with the National Labor Relations Board in Seattle. KIRO 7 spoke to an attorney who handles these types of cases. He said since this was filed in the end of September he expects a resolution by the end of October.