You probably suspected it already, but many national restaurant chains treat their workers badly. Two of the biggest abuses involve discrimination based on race and sex and something called “wage theft,” which involves asking workers to do such odd tasks as sorting silverware, filling ketchup bottles and salt shakers, and other maintenance duties while working off the clock. Such places sometimes also ask non-tipped workers to do the work of tipped workers–without getting any tips, of course.
These and other complaints were detailed by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC), an organization based in Chicago whose mission is “to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s low-wage restaurant workforce,” according to its website. The mission statement goes on to say, “Despite employing more than 10 million workers and producing more than $1.7 trillion in revenue each year, the United States restaurant industry is less than 1% unionized…the lack of organization left millions of restaurant workers vulnerable to abuse and exploitation around the country.”
Now, according to a piece in Raw Story, ROC has published an Ethical Dining Guide listing the names of chains that fail to pay a decent wage, don’t offer sick days, and don’t provide any sort of health insurance. (According to the guide, of the 4,000 chain-food employees surveyed, 90% receive no sick days at all.) Starbucks, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Hooters, and Denny’s are mentioned, but the Darden Restaurant Group comes in as the worst outfit to work for. This group owns Red Lobster, Capital Grille, Longhorn Steakhouse, and Olive Garden, and ROC recorded the most instances of wage theft among its employees.
ROC has set up a website called Dignity at Darden, detailing wages as low as $2.13 per hour for tipped employees, $7.25 for non-tipped (the federal minimum), the practice of forcing employees to work through their breaks, capriciously firing black workers, and other forms of discrimination. Keep it in mind next time you see one of those cheery Red Lobster commercials on TV.
[Thanks to Scott Pellegrino for the link]