HR Strange But True!
August 25, 2011

What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but it may also wind up as complaints to the Las Vegas office of Nevada OSHA.

That’s the story when motorists driving by a Carl’s Jr. called the agency because employees were seen wearing plush costumes outdoors on a sweltering hot day. But don’t worry; the employer was really cool about following heat illness prevention measures.

Nevada OSHA spokesperson Elizabeth Daniels told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the agency received several anonymous complaints about employees standing in front of the fast-food restaurants wearing the huge padded star costume of “Happy,” the Carl’s Jr. mascot, during summer’s high temperatures.

However, when the inspectors arrived, they found that the restaurant owners had done their homework and developed heat-illness prevention policies that they consistently implemented—and the case against the restaurants was dismissed.

Julie Larson, who owns 38 Carl’s Jr. locations in southern Nevada with her husband and has been in the business for over 25 years, told the newspaper that the investigators “were completely satisfied that we were doing all we could [to] have someone doing that [wearing the costume] under the circumstances.”

The couple has been using the mascots to draw in customers as part of the outdoor marketing activities and was shocked that passersbys would think that Carl’s Jr. didn’t care about its employees.

Larson revealed that only volunteers were used to don the Happy star costume—and the Happy shifts outdoor were only 15 minutes long!

The costumes are roomy enough that the lining conceals several ice packs and two easily accessible containers of cold water with straws, explained Larson. Also, messengers from inside check on the Happy employees every few minutes via cell phone, and workers must come inside at the appointed time whether they are hot or not.

Larson was sorry that the concerned citizens didn’t check with her first about the well-being of the costumed employees. She said she would have told them that as “a business person who is respectful of her employees,” she takes care of her employees’ as well as her volunteers’ safety and health.

Daniels said Nevada OSHA encourages people to report activities they think endanger workers and give it a chance to help an employer rectify the conditions.

But in this case, the employer was already cool about rules for working in hot conditions.


Las Vegas Review-Journal

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