Kansas Restaurant Imposes Strict Rules to its Employees. "If Your Dog Died, You Need to Bring Him in and Prove It to Us"
Pet Died? "Bring Him In and prove it."
A Kansas restaurant manager who attempted to crack down on staff absences found himself without a job last week when the restaurant chain fired him for being too harsh. The manager of an Olive Garden in Overland Park, Kansas, sent a message, to employees complaining that no-shows "are occurring at a staggering rate" and stating that if they needed to miss work, "[they] might as well go and look for another job."
The manager also said they would require unusual proof for certain excuses, such as the death of a pet. Read on to find out what the message contained and how internet commenters and the restaurant's parent company reacted.
The message shared with employees read, "Our call-offs are occurring at a staggering rate. From now on, if you call off, you might as well go out and look for another job. We are no longer tolerating ANY EXCUSE for calling off. If you're sick, you need to come prove it to us. If your dog died, you need to bring him in and prove it to us."
The manager continued: "If its a "family emergency" and you can't say, too bad. Go work somewhere else. If you only want morning shifts, too bad go work at a bank. If anyone from here on out calls out more than ONCE in the next 30 days you will not have a job."
The manager claimed they hadn't missed work in more than a decade of working for Olive Garden. "Do you know in my 11.5 years at Darden how many days I called off? Zero. I came in sick. I got in a wreck literally on my way to work one time, airbags went off and my car was totaled, but you know what, I made it to work, ON TIME." "There are no more excuses. Us, collectively as a management team have had enough. If you don't want to work here, don't. It's as simple as that. If you're here and want to work, then work," they added.
Darden Restaurants, owner of Olive Garden and other chains such as Longhorn Steakhouse, confirmed the message had been sent to employees and that the company had released the manager."We strive to provide a caring and respectful work environment for our team members. This message is not aligned with our company's values. We can confirm we have parted ways with this manager," a Darden representative said.
When the message was posted to Reddit's forum, commenters responded quickly. "She just admitted to going to the restaurant to work sick. Which I very much suspect is a health code violation," wrote one commenter. "My sister-in-law and her bf have been in the restaurant business for years. And they both say it's been impossible to hire or keep employees since covid. So I'm not sure how this manager thinks she'll still have a business to work with this attitude," said another. "They want dog corpse in the restaurant if your dog died? That's definitely a health department issue!!!!," wrote another.
Teofilo Reyes, chief program officer for the worker-advocacy group Restaurant Opportunities Center, told the Washington Post that pressure to reduce sick days is widespread — even if it's not phrased as bluntly as it was by the Olive Garden manager. "It's all too common," he said. "And that was true even during the pandemic."