KOKOMO, Ind. (WXIN) — A photo circulating on social media appears to show an Indiana Taco Bell employee cutting a coworker’s hair in the restaurant’s kitchen.
Jennifer Legear, a former employee, said she took the photo at a Taco Bell location in Kokomo on Thursday, Oct. 19. Legear said she was fired after photographing the incident and sharing it.
”I definitely know what kind of things you’re not supposed to be doing inside of kitchens,” said Legear. “Cutting hair is one of them.”
Legear said the haircut happened as the crew was getting ready for the lunch rush. The employee getting the haircut had a trash bag draped around her to keep hair off of her clothing.
”It was only about 3 feet away from where you make the food,” she said.
Legear said she sent the photo to a few friends, not intending for it to be seen by anyone else, but the photo was eventually posted on social media.
”I took it out of sheer shock and showed it to a few friends via Snapchat,” Legear said.
Once she was let go from her job, Legear said she posted the picture on her Facebook page.
”People deserve to know what’s going on where their food is being made,” Legear said.
Leagear’s Facebook post has garnered quite a bit of attention with more than 600 comments and close to 900 shares. Legear said most of the reaction has been the same.
”Just pure disgust and disbelief that that’s happening,” she said.
The Howard County Health Department responded to a complaint about the Taco Bell and an inspection was done on Friday. A department spokesperson did not confirm or deny the haircut photo was connected to the complaint, but released the following statement:
“The Howard County Health Department responded to a complaint that was submitted to our office on Thursday 10/19/23 by email. I sent an Inspector to the Taco Bell on West Sycamore St. here in Kokomo on Friday morning 10/20/23. The restaurant was inspected for compliance with the State Food Code 410 IAC 7-24 and Howard County Ordinance. The complaint was discussed with management at that time. The inspection report can be released as public information after a 10-day response period.”
Graham McKeen is a food safety expert and the director of Public and Environmental Health at Indiana University Bloomington.
”We don’t want hair in the food just from a simple contamination standpoint,” he said.
McKeen said local health departments have to investigate complaints.
“Is it really a high risk for food safety or food-borne illness? Is it a critical violation? No, but it’s certainly not ideal and creates that potential for contamination,” McKeen explained.
McKeen said he would expect a corrective action plan to be made to fix the violations. He said fines can become a factor if issues aren’t fixed in a timely manner.
Legear said she is frustrated about her firing but feels like she did “the right thing.”
”If this is what it takes to do the right thing, then so be it. I’ll find another job,” Legear said.
The health department said the Taco Bell location has responded to its report, and that response will be released when the report is made public 10 days after the investigation.
Taco Bell’s corporate office has not yet responded to a request for comment.