Food News

Red Lobster Parody Spotlights Restaurant Workers Without Paid Sick Days (Video)

With a major flu epidemic going around the United States, have you ever wondered whether or not your server sneezed on your all-you-can-eat shrimp?

A video, produced by ROC United, spoofs Red Lobster's commercials that spotlight happy employees serving seafood to even happier guests.

In this video, a server, being filmed for a commercial, has a cold. The cold, which starts out as a sneeze, turns into a full-blown case of influenza. When the employee asks if she can do this another day, the snarky director says that she can be sick on her day off.

We then see a statement that Darden employees are not given paid sick days, and that given they could make as little as $2.13 an hour, many cannot afford to take unpaid days off.

Darden is the parent company of Red Lobster, The Capital Grille, Olive Garden, Seasons 52,

Bahama Breeze, Yard House, LongHorn Steakhouse, among others. The Orlando-based restaurant giant employees around 180,000 people nationwide and was listed as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For by Fortune magazine, mostly for their diversity program, which seeks to employ women and minorities.

ROC United claims that Darden's

hourly employees have no paid sick days. Orlando-based Darden, which

employees around 180,000 people nationwide, lists a variety of employee

perks on its website like health insurance, training, flexible work

hours, and weekly pay, but there is no mention of accrued sick days. We

contacted media relations for both Darden and Red Lobster to clarify

their sick days policy, and have not received a response yet.

Saru Jayaraman, co-executive director of ROC United, a non-profit

organization, told Short Order that her organization chose to send their

message as a spoof of the popular Red Lobster commercials because, "we

felt the company is not living up to the image it portrays. Their

commercials focus on particular workers, showing how happy they are, but

the irony

is that many workers have contacted us with complaints about the

company. The fact that they focus on

workers being happy is ironic."


said she does not want this video to lead to a boycott of the

restaurant giant.  Instead, she suggests that after enjoying a meal,

"Tell management as a consumer, you feel they should give

their workers sick days. As a leader in the restaurant industry, they

have the responsibility and the resources to set a good example." In

addition, ROC United has started an online petition, stressing the need for paid sick days for restaurant employees.

ROC United has also produced a video, which shows you how to start a conversation with restaurant managers about workers' rights. Watch here and take action. Because no one wants to be served shrimp with a side of germs.

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss