A friend of mine recently went through an unpaid “training” as a waitress at a restaurant, only to not be hired. She was never paid for the long shift she actually worked. It’s a common practice — telling someone they’re hired, but they need to train, i.e., work, unpaid, for a shift or two. While it’s understandable that restaurants want to see how servers actually work under pressure, it’s unethical not to pay the candidates for the time that they actually spent working at the establishment.
A spot check of Shameless Restaurants is in order every week or two. It’s a forum that allows restaurant workers to share stories from the trenches, and warn others about restaurants using unfair practices. Just like other open, anonymous forums, there are also plenty of ranters who don’t make much sense, but today we came across a post about a restaurant that took the “training” scam to the extreme.
The post refers to Ellis Bar, in South Slope/Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn.
I went to an open call at Ellis Bar. They said I was hired and that I could come in and train. They told me that in order to train I had to bring a crowd of people with me to my training shift. They had me come in on a Monday, and I brought out as many people as I could for a rainy Monday night (about 25 people, which as I found out, is more people than that place has at any time). I “trained” for 4 hours with another bartender, made the place and the bartender money (my friends were the only people in the place) and then was told I could go. I never received training pay and they never called me with a schedule. Then I found out from another person who used to work there that the owner and his wife only PRETEND they are hiring people so they can bring people in to train and make them bring their friends for a night and make money off of the person.
Restaurant owners, managers, servers, and friends, any thoughts on this? Have you encountered issues surrounding unpaid training shifts?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 17, 2009