A Burger King sign has gone viral after employees at a Lincoln, Nebraska, location used it to announce they were "all" quitting.
One of the former employees from the location told TODAY Food that the sign came after months of short staffing, managerial turnover and "hectic" work conditions.
"We had just got really tired of upper management and them not coming to help and not caring about the employees," said Rachael Flores, the former general manager of the Havelock Avenue location, who told TODAY that she had put in her two weeks' notice alongside several other employees at the end of June.
Flores said she began working at the restaurant in August 2020, after losing her job as a representative for Capitol One at the beginning of the pandemic. She said she had worked in restaurants before, including other Burger King locations, and was prepared for the job, but was surprised by the behavior of upper management.
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"It was pretty hectic. They were already short-staffed (in August) and the general manager was pretty loud and crazy, very argumentative," said Flores, who was promoted to general manager in January after that employee left. "As I became general manager, it got more crazy. I had multiple different bosses."
Flores said, at times, shifts that were meant to have five or seven employees working only had two or three. She also recounted one incident where she was hospitalized and several other employees felt ill due to the lack of air conditioning in the establishment's kitchen.
"In the beginning of the summer when it was extremely hot, it would be extremely hot in the kitchen because the AC wasn't working and temperatures were reaching the mid-90s most days," said Flores. "It was causing a lot of issues with employees, they were getting dehydrated. … That took three or four weeks to get fixed. One of the days I was extremely delirious, I was very dehydrated."
Flores said she left work at the urging of other employees, which led to her missing a managers meeting.
"When I was two minutes late, my boss called me and when I told him what was going on, he told me I was being a baby and I was making excuses and that I needed to do my job," she said. "I ended up going to the hospital that night for dehydration. I had to get IV fluids and everything. I had called my boss' boss and I told him how I was treated, how my boss hung up on me and everything he said to me, and he said I was lying, that he never said that."
Over the weekend, Flores said she was fired for her role in putting up the sign, days before she was supposed to leave her position. At least six other employees also left the establishment at the same time, and according to the location's website, they are hiring for roles including a cook, an hourly shift coordinator and a general manager, the same position Flores held.
The Havelock location declined to respond to TODAY's request for comment. A spokesperson for Burger King told TODAY that they were aware of the situation.
"The work experience described at this location is not in line with our brand values," said the spokesperson. "Our franchisee is looking into this situation to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future."
Flores said that some of the sign's language was also meant to be an apology to customers who relied on the restaurant's staff.
"We also wanted to give a genuine apology to the customers because quite a few people have worked there for years," she said. "One was there for 18, one was there for eight and another was there for seven, so they have been seeing a lot of the same customers for years. Part of it was a genuine apology for customers and the ‘We all quit’ was to upper management."
Many restaurants have struggled to maintain enough staff to operate during the pandemic. Flores said she doesn't want diners to see herself and her coworkers as lazy or unmotivated, noting that she was surprised by the response on social media.
"It was a lot more positive than I expected, because there are a lot more people that think that we quit because we weren’t making enough money or because flipping a burger was a little bit too hard. It was nothing like that. It was upper management being crappy," she said. "To see the amount of support that we employees actually got was actually really nice, to know that we are inspiring people to reevaluate their self-worth when it comes to a job actually feels pretty great.”
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: