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Grover out at Burger King

MIAMI Burger King Corp. said food safety vice president Steve Grover and spokesman Keva Silversmith no longer work for the company, but it stopped short of confirming that they were the two executives fired last week in connection to online comments that bashed a farm workers' advocacy group.

Burger King did not give reasons for the departures of Grover and Silversmith. Messages to both have not been returned.

Two weeks ago, Burger King confirmed that comments posted on various public websites were traced to Grover, vice president of food safety, quality assurance and regulatory compliance. At the time Burger King said it would conduct an investigation into the online comments, which reportedly attacked the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an advocacy group currently at odds with the chain. The comments were made under names other than Grover's.

Burger King said the online comments did not reflect its views and were in violation of company policy and its code of business ethics and conduct.

Late last month, a report in The News-Press of Fort Meyers, Fla., had linked Grover to the online attacks on the CIW. It also traced critical e-mails to Grover. The CIW called the online remarks “a series of anonymous and defamatory comments.”

The News-Press reported that Grover had used the screen name of his daughter to post at least some of the comments, and that she had confirmed her father’s responsibility.

The CIW is the activist group trying to get Burger King to join McDonald’s and Yum! Brands’ chains in paying an extra penny a pound for tomatoes in Florida. The CIW maintains that the additional payment would be used to improve the wages and living conditions of tomato pickers. Burger King has refused to pay the charge, citing concerns about the legality of paying wages to people who don’t work for the company.

After the News-Press story appeared, Burger King indicated that it may review its purchasing agreements as a “first step” toward resolving the issue and indicated that the burger chain might soon meet with the CIW.

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