Activists and workers rally for fired Hardee’s employee

SPEAKING OUT: Johaunna Cromer, left, says she was fired from the Hardee's in Biltmore Village after attending a Fight For $15 rally in Chicago. Cromer and others rallied today, asking the restaurant to reverse its decision. Photos by Pat Barcas

Johaunna Cromer claims she was given no reason for being fired May 22 from her job at the Hardee’s restaurant in Biltmore Village, but she says the timing lines up suspiciously with recent activism she’s taken part in.

Cromer and others with the Fight For $15 movement attended a rally today in front of the Hardee’s, 71 Hendersonville Road, calling on the fast-food establishment to reverse its decision to fire Cromer.

Cromer had worked at the restaurant for eight months and claims the only reason given for the firing was that she made a comment saying she was going to quit, which she denies. On Friday, May 22, she came into work after taking a three-day break to attend a May 20 Fight For $15 rally at the corporate McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill.  She says that upon her return she had a discussion with her boss and was given a piece of paper indicating she was no longer employed at Hardee’s.

Cromer says she had previously passed up job opportunities elsewhere but was encouraged to stay at Hardees, and was considered a good worker.

“They said I was an asset here. They said that plenty of times,” she says. “I’ve helped them pass plenty of quality assurance testing, we’ve broken our backs scrubbing to make sure the place was clean, my uniform stayed pressed, I stayed ready.”

A labor complaint is presented to an employee of Hardees.
A labor complaint is presented to an employee of Hardees.

Cromer filed for unemployment this week — her first time ever to do so — and also filed a labor complaint against Hardees.

“I know that the unemployment office is going to provide me with an attorney,” she says.

Xpress has attempted to contact the Hardee’s corporate office for comment, but messages have not been returned.

Workers rallied around Cromer, who was fired last week.
Workers rallied around Cromer, who was fired last week.

 

The Fight For 15 movement is picking up steam nationally and in Asheville, say workers.
The Fight For 15 movement is picking up steam nationally and in Asheville, say workers.

Asheville Sustainable Restaurant Workforce organizer Alia Todd was at the rally to show support. The organization celebrates its one year anniversary this week, and Todd says workers in Asheville are starting to realize they have certain rights.

“It is important that workers and others start talking about the dignity of work and their value as a part of the economy,” Todd says. “There is a real disconnect between how workers feel and what they are able to do about it. Workers need validation — they need to become comfortable with questioning their environment and understanding their rights passed down through the National Labor Relations Act.”

Under the National Labor Relations Act, workers are allowed to strike and picket, form a union, bargain collectively through representatives of employees’ own choosing or take action with one or more co-workers to improve working conditions by raising work-related complaints directly with employers or with a government agency and seeking help from a union.

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About Pat Barcas
Pat is a photojournalist and writer who moved to Asheville in 2014. He previously worked for a labor and social rights advocacy newspaper in Chicago. Email him at pbarcas@gmail.com. Follow me @pbarcas

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6 thoughts on “Activists and workers rally for fired Hardee’s employee

  1. Dionysis

    Being sympathetic to the call for higher wages for workers in the fast-food sector in general, it seems that there is likely more to the termination of this former employee of Hardees than is suggested here. First of all, while I may be going out on a limb here, it just may have something to do with taking a three-day break (was she scheduled to work any of those days?) and spending it at McDonalds’ corporate headquarters.

    And having handled literally countless unemployment claims at all levels (initial, first appeal and second appeal) in my career, her claim that “…the unemployment office is going to provide me with an attorney” is a delusion. And the filing of a ‘labor complaint’ is actually meaningless unless some demonstrable violation of federal laws can be shown. This doesn’t mean her claims are without merit, but based upon this sketchy information, mostly from the view of an eight-month terminated employee, there doesn’t seem to be any substance to her assertions.

    • johaunna cromer

      I was off those days and its more to it that i cant speak about it.And as for a attorney its taken care of it dosent matter by who.Have a blessed day

      • Big chex

        As an manager myself, it seems you thought more of taking care of someone else business then your own. Do You not consider they gave you a job and needed you to work. You say you have been employed only 8 months, hardly enough time to know your way around.

  2. Lamont Cranston

    Isn’t North Carolina’s “At-Will Termination” law just great? Employers can use it to fire anyone , anytime without any reason or complaint.

    Add to that the oxymoron law of “Right To Work”, and you have a “Plantation Mentality” employment model covered by the legal system in this state (“Do as you’re told, or else!”).

  3. Dionysis

    Actually, all states have ‘At-Will’ employment law in some fashion. Some have no exemptions at all (Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and Rhode Island), some have one exemption (North Carolina has a ‘public policy exeption’, as do most others), some have one or two other exemptions, being ‘implied contract’ (employee handbook promises) and ‘Covenant of Good Faith’, recognized by a handful of states. But you’re right, someone can legally be fired for “good reason, bad reason or no reason.”

  4. Ken

    I worked in fast food or a family restaurant in the mid seventies. There was talk of a union and increase in wage above the minimum, which at the time was $1.85 hr. The restaurant allowed the union to come, speak with employees and do their thing. The union was not voted in and the employee was fired. The union would not have don’t anything for us except make us pay union dues and face a possible strike. The employee deserved firing for reasons other than the union. Minimum wage is forced upon companies by the government. Fair trade is the only answer. Them employees very well could do better than minimum with competition. This is only a starting wage. Get off your lazy behind and advance for more money. Get married, don’t get pregnant and stay in school if you want more money. $15 an hr will result in less employees, more work and closed restaurants. It always has and always will.

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