Category Archives: Raley’s Benicia

Benician arrested for hate crime against 3 black kids outside Raley’s

Male suspect in Benicia arrested for alleged hate crime, DUI

Vallejo Times Herald, By KATY ST. CLAIR, April 15, 2021

A 20-year-old man was arrested in Benicia on Saturday for an alleged felony “hate crime.”

Patric Knoblich is accused of making racial slurs against a group of minors at the Southampton Shopping Center as he drove past them, police said. He was also booked for allegedly brandishing a replica of a gun and driving under the influence.

According to a post on the Facebook group Stand-Up Benicia, the victims — ages 13, 14 and 15 — were walking their bikes next to the shopping complex when a man yelled from his car, “Hey you nasty (N-words)!” Two passengers reportedly looked on and laughed.

The children say they have a recording of the incident. The Times-Herald listened to the audio and a male can be heard yelling the slur, and also saying “You (expletive) nasty!”

According to the Benicia Police Department, “a short time later, the teens asked the driver why he made the comments and at this point, the driver brandished a realistic-looking airsoft gun” and drove away.

The juveniles claim that when the car came back, the driver also yelled, “You don’t know who you’re (expletive) with, (expletive)!”

The boys told a source familiar to the Times-Herald that they were fearful and went into Raley’s Supermarket to report what had happened. According to the boys, the manager of Raley’s told them to “go home,” though a spokesperson for Raley’s said that is inaccurate and that the store manager called 911.

The Benicia Police confirm that Raley’s did indeed call 911, but after the victim’s mother had already done so.

According to a post on Stand Up Benicia, the boys were frightened and went to the back of the store, where the mother of one of their schoolmates recognized them and took them home. The mother of one of the boys then called 911 and the police arrived at their home.

According to BPD, officers located the alleged driver of the vehicle, Knoblich, whom they say is out on bail for a previous, unrelated crime. Police say the incident is still under investigation.

Knoblich was booked into Solano County Jail on April 11 for misdemeanor brandishing of a firearm replica, driving under the influence and driving under the influence as a minor, and a felony “violation of civil rights.”

Knoblich has been released from jail. The Times-Herald has reached out to the district attorney about the case, but had not heard back by press time.

SF Chronicle: Benicia Mayor Steve Young calls for action after Raley’s COVID-19 violations

Christmas Eve party at Benicia supermarket sparks COVID concerns

San Francisco Chronicle, by Michael Cabanatuan, Jan. 6, 2021

Days after a Christmas Eve party at a Raley’s supermarket in Benicia, one worker who attended it tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the city’s mayor to demand the store let its staff and the public know what steps are being taken in response.

Benicia Mayor Steve Young

Mayor Steve Young, in a video posted to YouTube Tuesday, cited social media and press reports of the Christmas Eve dinner, laid out for employees on their breaks, and demanded action from the Sacramento supermarket chain.

“At a minimum, Raley’s needs to be transparent, needs to tell employees what is happening, needs to tell the public what is happening,” the mayor said.

He also called on the Sacramento supermarket chain to send home and quarantine — with pay — all workers who are exposed to someone who tests positive and to provide them with free COVID-19 tests. Young also suggested Raley’s establish a routine testing program for its workers.

Raley’s spokeswoman Chelsea Minor acknowledged that the party took place on Christmas Eve, violated company and health department protocols, and that one person has since tested positive, is quarantining and hasn’t been in the store since the party.

Here’s what the Bay Area and California stay-at-home orders…
“We take full responsibility but by no means were we suppressing information,” she said. Raley’s has posted all positive tests on its website since March, she said, and the lone positive test that may have stemmed from the party was the sixth postive test at the Benicia store.

The supermarket, at 890 Southampton Road, held an informal Christmas Eve party for its employees in the store, providing them with food. Attendees reportedly sat close to each other and didn’t wear masks, at least while dining. Photos of the party were posted on the supermarket’s Facebook page, but have since been removed. A Facebook commenter later reposted the pictures.

A couple of days after the party, the mayor said, a Raley’s manager came down sick with flu symptoms then tested positive for the coronavirus. Word of the ill-fated party spread on social media, prompting concerns among employees, who complained on social media that they hadn’t been informed of the manager’s positive test, as well as customers.

“The manager who went out sick right after the party, there were a number of people who were photographed sitting close to him and those people are still working,” the mayor said in his statement.

Minor, who spoke to the Benicia City Council on Tuesday night, said the company has followed proper protocol, and most of the mayor’s wishes, once it learned that the employee developed symptoms. She said the employee last worked on the day of the party, stayed home after he became sick, was tested for the coronavirus and received a positive test result on Jan. 2.

She said the chain allows employees who are concerned about a positive exposure to take paid days off to quarantine and pays for testing. She said a regular testing program may be considered short-term at the Benicia store.

“We’ll do what we need to do to restore the faith of our customers,” Minor said.

Michael Cabanatuan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

Latest on Benicia Raley’s COVID-19 violations, store confirms at least one infected employee

[Editor: Note later correction,  highlighted in paragraph 12 below.  – R.S.]

Benicia Raley’s Supermarkets confirms COVID-19 case after holding maskless pot luck

Vallejo Times Herald, By Katy St. Clair, January 4, 2021
Raley’s Benicia holiday party, maskless employees, not socially distanced (Source: Raley’s Benicia Facebook, December 24, 2020 – posted here by the Benicia Independent, not Vallejo Times-Herald)

A memo sent to Raley’s Supermarkets staff at the Benicia branch on Sunday confirms that an employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The store held an on-site pot luck holiday party on Dec. 24 in which several employees were pictured without masks.

“This is notice that an individual who was present at Raley’s 343 at 890 Southampton Rd., Benicia, CA, has tested positive for COVID-19,” the memo states. “The individual was last at the worksite on 12/24/20 and is currently self-isolating.”

The store received criticism after after pictures were posted to social media of the holiday pot luck which showed attendees sitting closely at tables without wearing masks.

An employee who spoke to the Times-Herald on condition of anonymity said that the person diagnosed with COVID-19 is “very ill” and was present at the event.

In the same memo, Raley’s Supermarkets said that it notified affected team members and carried out contact tracing for anyone who had been within 6 feet of the individual for longer than 15 minutes at a time. The store also said it would be contacting any vendors that had contact with the individual. In addition, the memo states that the store “performed necessary cleaning and disinfecting of the work areas and surfaces along the individual’s path of travel.”

Chelsea Minor, a spokesperson for Raley’s Supermarkets, said that the company acknowledges that the store did not follow procedure when it allowed a maskless potluck.

“We have taken action and coached appropriately,” she said.

A new California law went into effect on Jan. 1 that requires businesses to report to the county public health department if three or more people are diagnosed with COVID-19 within a 14-day period. It also requires employers to notify employees within one day of discovering that an employee has tested positive.

An employee told the Times-Herald on Dec. 31 that the COVID-19-infected employee had been at the holiday party and had tested positive several days before the store notified staff.

“It’s hard to believe that none of the managers knew what I knew,” the individual said.

According to the text of the law, AB 685, businesses  were not legally obligated to notify staff or the public of COVID-19 infections prior to this year.  The bill’s text states, “Reporting among workplaces in 2020 lacked “clarity as to an employer’s reporting requirements, including their own workforce. This deficiency has led to workers and members of the public living in fear for their own safety, unaware of where outbreaks may already be occurring.”

Raley’s Benicia holiday party, employees not socially distanced (Source: Raley’s Benicia Facebook, December 24, 2020 – posted here by the Benicia Independent, not Vallejo Times-Herald)

The Raley’s employee alleges that a manager spoke to them in confidence about at least 20 people at the Benicia Raley’s Supermarkets branch being diagnosed with COVID-19 since March of 2019.

Though Raley’s stated that people near the affected person were being isolated, an employee told the Times-Herald that two people who were seated near the infected person in the pot luck pictures remained on the job on Monday. It is not known how long those employees were exposed.

“They all sat back there for a long time,” said the employee. “It was over 15 minutes for sure. Some spent their whole lunch hour back there.”

Minor said that Raley’s has completed its initial screening process to see who had been exposed to the employee but that the process is ongoing.

“We are acting on that information that we have,” she said. “(Employees) should talk to their team leader and they should report it. And if they are in a predicament and feel like they could be exposed, they should report it.”

Word about the pot luck and reports of COVID-19 infections have prompted both the City of Benicia and Solano Public Health to investigate the store.

Calls to the public information officers at the public health department and county were not returned.

Times-Herald coverage of COVID violation at Raley’s Benicia

Maskless holiday party at Benicia Raley’s draws concern

Vallejo Times-Herald, by Katy St. Clair, December 31, 2020
Raley’s Benicia holiday party, maskless employees, not socially distanced (Source: Raley’s Benicia Facebook, December 24, 2020 – posted here by the Benicia Independent, not Vallejo Times-Herald)

It began with a social media post of various employees of a Raley’s store in Benicia, smiling for pictures around tables at a potluck holiday party on Christmas Eve — many not wearing masks.

The usual comments began — people horrified that a store would ignore both social distancing and masks, especially while eating. Then “anti-maskers” chimed in about how the virus is overblown. Most importantly, rumors began to spread that several employees at the Benicia store have been out sick.

One employee of Raley’s told the Times-Herald that at least one person at the potluck has contracted COVID-19.

“I was told by a manager in confidence that there have been 21 people total who have gotten COVID-19 who work here,” said the employee. “They are trying to keep it a secret.”

The employee spoke to the Times-Herald on condition of anonymity.

City of Benicia officials say they were told by store management that the store was “currently are not aware of any cases.”

Richard Rodriguez, team leader and general manager at the Benicia Raley’s, denies that 20 employees have been sick with COVID-19.

“No,” he laughed, “that’s not true not at all,” but he said that all further questions should be directed to Ashley Campas at the corporate office, who was not available for comment.

The city, meanwhile, released a statement about the store:

“It has been brought to our attention … that word is spreading on social media of a large number of employees at Raley’s testing positive for COVID-19 … City staff have contacted management and they have indicated that they currently are not aware of any positive cases, although a potluck was held over the holidays.”

“It’s a lie. It’s just a lie,” said the employee. “And that’s what’s concerning me. With everybody that is sick now — the first COVID case here was back in March, so you have to understand that this has been going on for a long time.”

“The city is aware of the party that was held at Raley’s and the concern it has generated,” Mayor Steve Young told the Times-Herald. “We are waiting for confirmation as to whether there are, in fact, employees who have tested positive. Our first concern remains the health and safety of the community as well as the workers.”

The Benicia Independent says that the Solano County Public Health department is investigating, something the Times-Herald has yet to be able to corroborate. But photos show that the store has gone against state regulations for essential workers, with employees at the potluck not wearing protective face coverings and gloves. The State of California requires that all employees wear face masks or coverings at all times.

Raley’s Benicia holiday party, masked employees, not socially distanced (Source: Raley’s Benicia Facebook, December 24, 2020 – posted here by the Benicia Independent, not Vallejo Times-Herald)

As for the denial from store general manager Rodriguez, the employee was miffed that their manager would laugh at the question.

“It hurts my heart that the management thinks this is funny or is a joke,” they said, adding that many there feel that they have to live with the risks involved with working there because they need the job. According to the source, they aren’t given gloves by the store and there is no organization around getting masks or other precautionary things.

“The health department came in yesterday so guess what? I got my temperature taken today and we suddenly have hand sanitizer.”

“In the midst of this dangerous surge of the virus, it is so important that every business and citizen respects and follows the safety protocols put in place for our protection,” Young said.