A Taco Bell manager in California is under fire this week after allegations that he locked a homeless man inside the restaurant’s Dumpster. But he says that the man was sleeping in the unlocked Dumpster, and he simply had to keep the area’s gates shut due to city regulations.
The Record Searchlight says a high school student told the local rescue mission that he overheard the manager ordering to lock the man inside the Dumpster, where he remained for more than an hour.
“We understand that businesses are not always equipped to handle the growing needs of those who are homeless. However, the mission does have resources available to businesses and encourages business owners to refer individuals to the mission or contact authorities if there is a violation of the law,” said the mission’s community relations manager in relaying the boy’s story.
But the manager in question says that story — which has exploded on Facebook since it was first reported — is totally wrong.
“It is extremely false,” he said. “The gentleman was sleeping in the dumpster. We simply closed the dumpster gates…per city ordinance. The dumpster itself was unlocked at all times. Nothing was locked…the lid has to remain closed or the city fines us a bunch of money.”
While the teen reportedly told the mission that he could hear the man banging on the Dumpster from the inside until cops showed up, the manager reiterated that nothing was locked.
“The gates can be opened from in or outside,” he said. “There is no locking mechanism to it…I tried to tell him, he’s not locked in.”
He adds that the Taco Bell is used to transients at that store, but no one abuses anyone.
“I deal with transients all the time, and let me tell you what, we don’t abuse transients. We don’t do anything horrible to transients,” the manager said. “For the most part, as long as they’re not harming anybody, I don’t ask them to leave. I have no control over somebody climbing in my dumpster and taking naps, and we’re not going to endanger ourselves by helping this person out. It’s just that kind of world. We call the police.”
We’ve reached out to Taco Bell corporate for a comment on the situation, and will update this story if we hear back. We heard back from a Taco Bell spokesperson, who sent us this statement about the alleged incident:
We are an organization that puts people first, from our team members, to franchisees, to customers and the people in the communities in which we serve. These rumors are completely untrue and are not a reflection of our values.
UPDATED: Rescue Mission and Taco Bell have different stories on dumpster allegation [Record Searchlight]