Chick-fil-A store asks for ‘volunteers’ to work for chicken, not money

cigaretteman

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In recent years, working at Chick-fil-A has meant being part of one of America’s most popular fast-food restaurants and a chicken-sandwich juggernaut of a business that has brought in billions of dollars in annual sales.
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So some fans were surprised this week when one North Carolina store took a different approach and asked for “volunteers” who would be paid in chicken instead of money to work at the location’s drive-through.

“We are looking for volunteers for our new Drive Thru Express!” the store in Hendersonville, N.C., wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday that has since been deleted. “Earn 5 free entrees per shift (1 hr) worked. Message us for details.”

The store has been met with backlash for appearing to ignore the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the long-standing federal law that states how employers must pay their employees for all of the hours they work. The Hendersonville location, which is run by a franchisee, responded to the online blowback by saying the “volunteer-based opportunity” was intended for people who “think it’s a good fit for them,” and argued it was different from full- or part-time employment.






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“We’ve had multiple people sign up and enjoy doing and have done it multiple times,” the store wrote in a separate post. “People who sign up for this chose it voluntarily.”
A spokesperson for Chick-fil-A, which is headquartered in Atlanta, told The Washington Post on Thursday that the Hendersonville store had “decided to end this program.”

“Most restaurants are individually owned and operated, and it was a program at an individually owned restaurant,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “This was not endorsed by Chick-fil-A, Inc.”
A manager at the Chick-fil-A store declined to comment and directed all questions to corporate representatives. Joel Benson, the Hendersonville restaurant’s operator, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Jennifer Haigwood, director of communications for the North Carolina Department of Labor, told The Post in a statement that while the agency does not have any jurisdiction over volunteers or situations where there isn’t an employer-employee relationship, the FLSA’s requirements regarding private for-profit employers “are clear that there cannot be an employee who provides ‘volunteer’ work for that for-profit employer.”







“Generally, labeling a worker as a ‘volunteer’ will not remove the employer from its FLSA obligation to pay the required wages if that individual performs work that benefits the for-profit entity,” Haigwood said.
Known for touting its “family-owned” and “biblically-based” principles, including closing on Sundays, privately held Chick-fil-A has been one of the most profitable fast-food restaurant chains in the country, with more than 2,600 restaurants across 47 states, D.C., Canada and Puerto Rico.
A 2020 report from Technomic, a consulting firm for the restaurant industry, estimated that Chick-fil-A brought in about $11.3 billion in sales for 2019, trailing only McDonald’s and Starbucks among restaurant chains. In 2021, the average Chick-fil-A store outside of a mall made more than $8.1 million in annual revenue, according to franchise disclosure documents obtained by Restaurant Business magazine.



Chick-fil-A has also faced criticism for its anti-LGBTQ stances, specifically when the company’s chief executive, Dan Cathy, said in 2012 that he was opposed to same-sex marriage. The company later said that its culture was “to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect.” A store in Decatur, Ga., is facing a recent discrimination lawsuit from a transgender employee who has accused the franchise restaurant’s owner of saying it was an “honor” for the worker to face sexual harassment and catcalls.
Trans Chick-fil-A worker told to be ‘honored’ by catcalls, suit says
The store in Hendersonville, located more than 20 miles south of Asheville, N.C., is perhaps best known for employing Madison Cawthorn as a cashier, years before he was elected as a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The franchisee made headlines last summer when it announced pay raises to employees that bumped their wages to $19 an hour, according to the Hendersonville Times-News.
As online backlash mounted against the store this week, the location wrote in a follow-up post to social media that the idea came as a way for customers at the Hendersonville Chick-fil-A “to earn free food to simply traffic direct other guests.”



“Usually a win-win for us and the volunteer who gets free Chick-fil-A!” the store wrote, according to Vice News. “That way, our team can focus on serving the guests in what we do best.”
A manager at the store defended the idea to Vice, saying the initiative for volunteer works reflected how some brands in the community “establish a relationship” with their customers.
“As a result, there’s an expression of desire from the community to be more a part of what that brand is doing,” said the manager, Ryan, who declined to give his last name to the media outlet. “We get people all the time that want to be a part of what we’re doing. This is designed to be an opportunity for that.”

Critics, however, weren’t buying what the Chick-fil-A store was selling.
“There is so much wrong here I don’t know where to start,” one commenter posted on Reddit.
Even with the negative response to the volunteer positions to be paid in chicken sandwiches, the Chick-fil-A location says it is still looking to hire those interested in full- and part-time positions.

 

paednoch23

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Oct 23, 2009
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In recent years, working at Chick-fil-A has meant being part of one of America’s most popular fast-food restaurants and a chicken-sandwich juggernaut of a business that has brought in billions of dollars in annual sales.
Share with The Post: What’s one way you’ve felt the impact of inflation?
So some fans were surprised this week when one North Carolina store took a different approach and asked for “volunteers” who would be paid in chicken instead of money to work at the location’s drive-through.

“We are looking for volunteers for our new Drive Thru Express!” the store in Hendersonville, N.C., wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday that has since been deleted. “Earn 5 free entrees per shift (1 hr) worked. Message us for details.”

The store has been met with backlash for appearing to ignore the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the long-standing federal law that states how employers must pay their employees for all of the hours they work. The Hendersonville location, which is run by a franchisee, responded to the online blowback by saying the “volunteer-based opportunity” was intended for people who “think it’s a good fit for them,” and argued it was different from full- or part-time employment.






ADVERTISING

“We’ve had multiple people sign up and enjoy doing and have done it multiple times,” the store wrote in a separate post. “People who sign up for this chose it voluntarily.”
A spokesperson for Chick-fil-A, which is headquartered in Atlanta, told The Washington Post on Thursday that the Hendersonville store had “decided to end this program.”

“Most restaurants are individually owned and operated, and it was a program at an individually owned restaurant,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “This was not endorsed by Chick-fil-A, Inc.”
A manager at the Chick-fil-A store declined to comment and directed all questions to corporate representatives. Joel Benson, the Hendersonville restaurant’s operator, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Jennifer Haigwood, director of communications for the North Carolina Department of Labor, told The Post in a statement that while the agency does not have any jurisdiction over volunteers or situations where there isn’t an employer-employee relationship, the FLSA’s requirements regarding private for-profit employers “are clear that there cannot be an employee who provides ‘volunteer’ work for that for-profit employer.”







“Generally, labeling a worker as a ‘volunteer’ will not remove the employer from its FLSA obligation to pay the required wages if that individual performs work that benefits the for-profit entity,” Haigwood said.
Known for touting its “family-owned” and “biblically-based” principles, including closing on Sundays, privately held Chick-fil-A has been one of the most profitable fast-food restaurant chains in the country, with more than 2,600 restaurants across 47 states, D.C., Canada and Puerto Rico.
A 2020 report from Technomic, a consulting firm for the restaurant industry, estimated that Chick-fil-A brought in about $11.3 billion in sales for 2019, trailing only McDonald’s and Starbucks among restaurant chains. In 2021, the average Chick-fil-A store outside of a mall made more than $8.1 million in annual revenue, according to franchise disclosure documents obtained by Restaurant Business magazine.



Chick-fil-A has also faced criticism for its anti-LGBTQ stances, specifically when the company’s chief executive, Dan Cathy, said in 2012 that he was opposed to same-sex marriage. The company later said that its culture was “to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect.” A store in Decatur, Ga., is facing a recent discrimination lawsuit from a transgender employee who has accused the franchise restaurant’s owner of saying it was an “honor” for the worker to face sexual harassment and catcalls.
Trans Chick-fil-A worker told to be ‘honored’ by catcalls, suit says
The store in Hendersonville, located more than 20 miles south of Asheville, N.C., is perhaps best known for employing Madison Cawthorn as a cashier, years before he was elected as a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The franchisee made headlines last summer when it announced pay raises to employees that bumped their wages to $19 an hour, according to the Hendersonville Times-News.
As online backlash mounted against the store this week, the location wrote in a follow-up post to social media that the idea came as a way for customers at the Hendersonville Chick-fil-A “to earn free food to simply traffic direct other guests.”



“Usually a win-win for us and the volunteer who gets free Chick-fil-A!” the store wrote, according to Vice News. “That way, our team can focus on serving the guests in what we do best.”
A manager at the store defended the idea to Vice, saying the initiative for volunteer works reflected how some brands in the community “establish a relationship” with their customers.
“As a result, there’s an expression of desire from the community to be more a part of what that brand is doing,” said the manager, Ryan, who declined to give his last name to the media outlet. “We get people all the time that want to be a part of what we’re doing. This is designed to be an opportunity for that.”

Critics, however, weren’t buying what the Chick-fil-A store was selling.
“There is so much wrong here I don’t know where to start,” one commenter posted on Reddit.
Even with the negative response to the volunteer positions to be paid in chicken sandwiches, the Chick-fil-A location says it is still looking to hire those interested in full- and part-time positions.

I have family working for them. Its a wonderful company. They absolutely love working there.
 
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hawkifann

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Oct 5, 2001
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I have to assume this is something a local chain manager decided would be a fantastic idea and not something corporate was aware of. No company with that much brand recognition and reputation would spend a half second actually entertaining something that stupid.

It’s also Hendersonville, NC, so the stupid is very high there.
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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I have to assume this is something a local chain manager decided would be a fantastic idea and not something corporate was aware of. No company with that much brand recognition and reputation would spend a half second actually entertaining something that stupid.

It’s also Hendersonville, NC, so the stupid is very high there.

Probably something the franchise owner chose to do. Each of these stores is individually owned and Chik Fil-A won't allow you to own more than one store (Very much unlike most other franchises)

My thought is that it sounds bad but it's not really that bad. First of all it's not like they are trying to switch over already existing employees to food for pay as opposed to cash. So it's just people volunteering for this.

Secondly if you equate it to cash it's not bad wages. 5 free entree's per hour - According to the internets the cheapest entree at Chik-fil-A is $4.15 and the most expensive is $6.09. So you are talking about $20.75 to $30.45 per hour in free food. I mean if you really like your Chik-Fil-A . . .

I wouldn't do it and would be surprised if a lot of people volunteered for it but hey if they really like their Chik-Fil-A...

Honestly I think this looks worse than it is. And I'm kind of surprised the owner was willing to come off as that desperate sounding.
 

West Duval Nole

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Dec 16, 2013
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I'll say it ... CFA is the most overrated fast food chain out there.
The service speed has gone down at the ones around here since Covid. The employees are generally more polite than at other fast food restaurants. And to me that is why so many liked them. It wasn't so much that they had this overwhelmingly fantastic tasting food, just the service and manners you receive relative to other fast food restaurants.
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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Right, it is just some basic ass chicken sandwiches, settle down people.

Meh the quality of the food is higher than most other fast food joints, not all (I can think of a few that are better) but most and I think what impresses most people is the speed and service. Chik-Fil-A has huge lines and gets through those lines twice as fast as McDonald's does with lines half of that size. Can't count the number of times I've been to McDonalds and been 2 or 3 cars back from the speaker and waited a half hour between pulling in and getting my food. Chick Fil A I can pull in and be like 10 cars back from the speaker but somehow get my food in 15 minutes or less.
 
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hawkifann

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Oct 5, 2001
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Probably something the franchise owner chose to do. Each of these stores is individually owned and Chik Fil-A won't allow you to own more than one store (Very much unlike most other franchises)

My thought is that it sounds bad but it's not really that bad. First of all it's not like they are trying to switch over already existing employees to food for pay as opposed to cash. So it's just people volunteering for this.

Secondly if you equate it to cash it's not bad wages. 5 free entree's per hour - According to the internets the cheapest entree at Chik-fil-A is $4.15 and the most expensive is $6.09. So you are talking about $20.75 to $30.45 per hour in free food. I mean if you really like your Chik-Fil-A . . .

I wouldn't do it and would be surprised if a lot of people volunteered for it but hey if they really like their Chik-Fil-A...

Honestly I think this looks worse than it is. And I'm kind of surprised the owner was willing to come off as that desperate sounding.
It’s actually exceptionally stupid. It’s obviously illegal, as there are legal definitions for employees and contractors. Additionally, that franchise owner would be picking up massive risk if one of those volunteers got injured working the drive-thru line - his insurance would almost certainly not cover the “volunteer” and the person likely wouldn’t be in line for any kind of workman’s comp or anything like that. The franchise owner could quickly get sued out of existence.
 

hawkifann

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The service speed has gone down at the ones around here since Covid. The employees are generally more polite than at other fast food restaurants. And to me that is why so many liked them. It wasn't so much that they had this overwhelmingly fantastic tasting food, just the service and manners you receive relative to other fast food restaurants.
I’ve never seen any franchise run a better drive thru. The logistics ops are absolutely outstanding. It’s also a decent chicken sandwich not made from pink slime, so that’s a plus.
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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It’s actually exceptionally stupid. It’s obviously illegal, as there are legal definitions for employees and contractors. Additionally, that franchise owner would be picking up massive risk if one of those volunteers got injured working the drive-thru line - his insurance would almost certainly not cover the “volunteer” and the person likely wouldn’t be in line for any kind of workman’s comp or anything like that. The franchise owner could quickly get sued out of existence.

Not commenting on the legal consequences as I don't know all of them.

Legally speaking you may be very right that it's dumb. I'm just looking at it from a moral point of view and I don't find it that upsetting. I'd be railing if the owner was trying to convince already existing employees to take chicken as pay. But putting out there "anyone want to work for free food?" doesn't seem that immoral although I don't know how many people would actually want to do that. And honestly it sounds completely desperate from the owner.
 
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hawkifann

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Not commenting on the legal consequences as I don't know all of them.

Legally speaking you may be very right that it's dumb. I'm just looking at it from a moral point of view and I don't find it that upsetting. I'd be railing if the owner was trying to convince already existing employees to take chicken as pay. But putting out there "anyone want to work for free food?" doesn't seem that immoral although I don't know how many people would actually want to do that.
I’m not really looking at it from the morality side. On the surface, it’s just an exchange of goods for services….but it does mean he’d be paying some labor with vouchers. Mostly I just think it’s a dumb idea and really stupid from the legal side.
 

seminole97

HR Legend
Jun 14, 2005
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Probably something the franchise owner chose to do. Each of these stores is individually owned and Chik Fil-A won't allow you to own more than one store (Very much unlike most other franchises)

My thought is that it sounds bad but it's not really that bad. First of all it's not like they are trying to switch over already existing employees to food for pay as opposed to cash. So it's just people volunteering for this.

Secondly if you equate it to cash it's not bad wages. 5 free entree's per hour - According to the internets the cheapest entree at Chik-fil-A is $4.15 and the most expensive is $6.09. So you are talking about $20.75 to $30.45 per hour in free food. I mean if you really like your Chik-Fil-A . . .

I wouldn't do it and would be surprised if a lot of people volunteered for it but hey if they really like their Chik-Fil-A...

Honestly I think this looks worse than it is. And I'm kind of surprised the owner was willing to come off as that desperate sounding.
Sir, do you not see the problem?
How does Uncle Sugar get his cut when you’re paying people in pickled pollo?
 

The Tradition

HR King
Apr 23, 2002
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Probably something the franchise owner chose to do. Each of these stores is individually owned and Chik Fil-A won't allow you to own more than one store (Very much unlike most other franchises)

My thought is that it sounds bad but it's not really that bad. First of all it's not like they are trying to switch over already existing employees to food for pay as opposed to cash. So it's just people volunteering for this.

Secondly if you equate it to cash it's not bad wages. 5 free entree's per hour - According to the internets the cheapest entree at Chik-fil-A is $4.15 and the most expensive is $6.09. So you are talking about $20.75 to $30.45 per hour in free food. I mean if you really like your Chik-Fil-A . . .

I wouldn't do it and would be surprised if a lot of people volunteered for it but hey if they really like their Chik-Fil-A...

Honestly I think this looks worse than it is. And I'm kind of surprised the owner was willing to come off as that desperate sounding.

If the regulators even considered such an arrangement, it would not be based on the retail price of the meals (which includes profit). The most they could apply against the minimum wage would be Chick-fil-A's cost to produce the meal.
 

billanole

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Mar 5, 2005
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The store in Hendersonville, located more than 20 miles south of Asheville, N.C., is perhaps best known for employing Madison Cawthorn as a cashier, years before he was elected as a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The franchisee made headlines last summer when it announced pay raises to employees that bumped their wages to $19 an hour, according to the Hendersonville Times-News.


This is prolly the only real job the kid had prior to his gig as a House Representative.
The CFA service and speed are some of the best at any chain. The food is so so.
I personally think drive thru service should be limited to handicapped or elderly folks.
 

billanole

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Mar 5, 2005
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Because they have a bazillion cars full of fatties running for long periods of time.
Get out and walk inside.
And, while your at it, park at the far end of the parking lot.
Oh, get off my lawn!
 
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FSUTribe76

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Jan 23, 2008
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I'll say it ... CFA is the most overrated fast food chain out there.

In terms of the quality of the food I agree with you. In their marquee food item (the chicken sandwich), Popeyes, Bojangles and Aussie Grill blows them away. Even KFC is better. Sure, CFA chicken sandwiches beats all of the hamburger first fast food places (Mickey D, Burger King, Wendy’s, Whataburger, Sonic, etc…), but is that really a big accomplishment?

Where CFA is great is the customer service, they are probably the quickest, most efficient and friendliest min wage employees out there. They can handle five times the orders of an equivalent Mickey Ds or even Bojangles or Popeyes. And the sauces are really good, the original sauce and Polynesian in particular.

But the actual chicken? Usually not very crispy and usually a little mealy. Plus overly sweetened from their sweet pickle brine. I’m not touching a CFA strip or nugget without sauce. Meanwhile Bojangles, Popeyes, Raising Cane’s, Aussie Grills, Guthries, Foosacklys and even KFC have nuggets and strips that do not require sauce.
 

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