"Special Orders" Case Study
Special Orders in the Drive-Thru
The rumors were persistent. Illegal drugs were allegedly being sold through the drive thru at the fast food restaurant (QSR). Private inquiries with the local police department revealed that there was an active investigation pertaining to the unlawful activity. Code words were used by customers along with meal orders to signal the drug activity. A police raid on the restaurant was being planned, targeting selected employees. The anticipated media headlines and sound bites associating the restaurant with drug and criminal activity would severely tarnish the positive sponsorships and goodwill established by the restaurant in the community.
Representatives from Security and Operations from the restaurant company met with police investigators to create a cooperative plan. There were indications that three other fast food restaurants (QSR) with the same company in the local area were also infected with drug activity by employees. The plan outlined cooperative efforts by the company. Police investigators would be furnished with pertinent employee information, drive-thru monitoring equipment, recorded video and work schedules for all four restaurants. The investigation revealed that many of the employees involved in the illegal activity had prior arrests for drug related, thefts, and other assorted crimes. The most alarming information gleaned from the police was that two of those employees had prior convictions for robbery and aggravated assault – at a fast food restaurant! The company had not conducted pre-employment background screens on any of the employees.
The investigation was expanded by police with assistance from the restaurant company. In exchange, the police agreed to make arrests of employees and their associates away from the restaurant. They also agreed, in the event of media inquiry, to praise the cooperation and assistance from the company in their investigation.
As a result of this cooperative effort by the company and the local law enforcement agency, fourteen employees and many non-employees were arrested for selling and buying drugs at the drive-thru at the four locations. During the arrests, several were in possession of large amounts of drugs; and, loaded guns were confiscated from three others. The restaurant company was thankful that the media coverage was light. The police were very satisfied with the cooperation of the company and the results of their expanded investigation.
Another result of this incident was the commitment from the company to avoid exposing good employees to criminal co-workers. A test pilot of pre-employment screening of all prospective employees in a group of restaurants was initiated. The process greatly reduced the exposure of employees to criminal activity in the workplace. Restaurant managers reported that the morale and productivity were dramatically increased. Aside from the terminations of the fourteen employees arrested in this incident, the turnover for the four restaurants decreased. Ex-employees stated they quit because of the criminal activity and behavior in the restaurants. Several of them returned to work after the criminal employees were terminated. An existing employee hotline that had not been utilized to report the criminal activity was reemphasized throughout the restaurant company.