According to a new investigation, tens of thousands of workers and hundreds of Red Lobster restaurants across the country were forced to show up for work while sick. This is according to survey data and interviews with Red Lobster employees.
According to Popular Information, few Red Lobster employees have paid sick leave. When they get sick, they either are forced to show up for work or risk losing their job. The employee interviews came from the Shift Project, a research project based at Harvard that surveys thousands of service industry workers. One worker is quoted as saying, “We do not get sick pay. If we don’t work we don’t get paid.” That same story was repeated over and over again in the responses of countless Red Lobster workers across the country.
Popular Information reports that only 12% of Red Lobster employees have access to sick leave, well below the national average for restaurant chains. In the fall of 2021, 63% of Red Lobster employees admitted to being sick and working their shift anyway. Two-thirds of those people say they worked because they have no sick pay and needed the income. Red Lobster replied to Popular Information’s report saying in part;
“Red Lobster’s paid time off policies are consistent with our industry, in which the vast majority of our workforce are hourly employees with flexible scheduling options. There are some states that have paid sick leave requirements, and where that is the case, we follow the law and honor and pay it.”
Red Lobster was previously owned by Darden, the nation’s largest group of chain restaurants, according to Popular Information. The restaurant chain was sold to a private equity group for $2.1 billion in 2014. In March of 2020, Popular Information posted similar information about Darden not offering paid sick leave except in states where laws required it. Just hours after the report was made public, Darden announced paid leave for all employees.