Subway Goes To Court Over Employee Locked In Fridge For 8 Hours

An employee of a UK Subway store was locked in a chiller for eight hours overnight and wrote “help” using ketchup on pieces of cardboard, trying to attract the CCTV cameras in the store. The franchise owners, CM Ventures, were recently taken to court over the incident.

Karlee Daubeney, 20, was working for a Subway franchise outlet in Gloucester at the time. Daubeney was working the late shift alone in the restaurant and headed to the walk-in chiller to put the milk away. However, as she walked into the fridge, the door shut behind her, locking her in.

Daubeney told the Gloucester Citizen that she scrawled a message reading “help me” on pieces of cardboard using ketchup and mustard, sliding them under the door to the interior of the Subway store in the hope of attracting the operators of the CCTV cameras in the store, but apparently no one noticed.

The employee was wearing only a Subway shirt and leggings when she was locked in the chiller, in which the temperature was only a few degrees above zero.

Daubeney ended up spending the entire night in the fridge and was only freed when a co-worker arrived to open the store at 7.30 am the next morning. Amazingly, despite the employee almost suffering from hypothermia, her boss, rather than asking if she was OK, asked her if she could work the next night.

According to the Gloucester Citizen, on December 30, after Daubeney got her freedom from the chilly fridge, she tweeted about the incident, saying: “Got locked in a f*****g fridge over night for 8 hours and work don’t ask me if I’m okay, they ask if I can work tonight P**S TAKE”.

Daubeney explained the incident in the Subway chiller, saying at first she was in a state of panic and was looking for anything that she could use to open the door. Then she decided to write the word “help” on pieces of cardboard in the hope of attracting help via the CCTV cameras.

“I was trying to write ‘help’ on pieces of cardboard to slide under the door. I think it was with ketchup or mayonnaise.”

However, it finally got to the stage where she was so cold, she had no energy left to bang on the door, as she was only wearing the Subway top and leggings. Daubeney said her muscles became so cold, she found it really hard to walk for a few days, suffered migraines and had dry skin around her nose.

When Daubeney visited the hospital the next day, she was told she was close to having hypothermia. She said she made herself as warm as she could when she got home and now claims to have suffered long-term effects from the ordeal, saying, “I didn’t leave the house for a long time afterwards as I was suffering from really bad panic attacks – it has been nearly a year and I still suffer from anxiety.”

The door had apparently been faulty for some time. According to the Huffington Post there had been numerous reports about the faulty handle on the door leading to the Subway fridge, but the owners had failed to do anything about it.

CM Ventures, the franchise responsible for the Gloucester Subway store, headed to court this week, where they were charged with health and safety offenses. While the company pleaded not guilty to the charges, they were reportedly fined £6,070 ($9,341).

[Photo via Flickr by Random Retail / CC BY 2.0]

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