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Restaurant Injury Claims Add Up as Workers Find Little Help, Says KCRW

The public radio outlet continues its look into the darker side of LA's booming restaurant scene

A worker at Panda Express
A worker at Panda Express
Wonho Frank Lee

KCRW continues its look into the systemic issues and failures of the greater Los Angeles restaurant industry, focusing today on workers compensation and all the dangers that come with working in a kitchen.

The four minute audio clip tells a compelling story of misinformation and legalese that can sometimes shield restaurant owners and management from providing necessary health care to both front and back of house workers. As with the previous iteration of this ongoing series Burned, reporter Karen Foshay speaks with a number of folks personally affected, including mostly low-wage kitchen employees like dishwashers, bussers, and even cooks.

In one particular exchange, a former cook at Grand Burger in Glendora claims that any time he would cut himself on the job, he was advised to wrap the wound and keep cooking. On a rare occasion of a trip to a medical facility, the owner of Grand Burger allegedly requested the cook take his work uniform (which showed the restaurant’s logo) off in exchange for a blank one that wouldn’t link the restaurant with the injury.

Of course, it’s long been known that issues of workers compensation, on-the-job injury, and low back of house wages are rampant in the restaurant industry, which is something various groups — from minimum wage advocates to restaurants like Alimento in Silver Lake, which offers a tip line for back of house non-management staff — are trying to face up to. There are no easy answers, of course, but as this KCRW report indicates, lots of important workers keep finding themselves underrepresented in the decision-making process.

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