From the Editorial page of the New York Times, a partial list of those companies that do not provide paid sick leave to most of their employees. So assuming one of these shops is still open and running near you, there’s a fair chance that someone desperately in need of their paycheck is “fighting through” a nasty coughing fit, as they prepare your food or ring up that cash register. After all, with no paid sick leave, the rent doesn’t get paid and there’s no food on the table for the kids. So they dragged themselves to work today, because they had no other choice.
Most American restaurants do not offer paid sick leave. Workers who fall sick face a simple choice: Work and get paid or stay home and get stiffed. Not surprisingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2014 that fully 20 percent of food service workers had come to work at least once in the previous year “while sick with vomiting or diarrhea.”
The Times editorial page says it’s high time that these restaurants, retailers and other companies that rely on low-wage labor for their massive profits to bite the bullet, start paying their people to stay home when they’re sick, and stop endangering those workers, their customers, and the general public during this pandemic. While the Times acknowledges that many major companies deliberately shield this information from disclosure, they were able to obtain new data based on a nationwide survey of retail employees conducted by sociologists from the University of California.
The vast majority of workers at large restaurant chains report they do not get paid sick leave, except in the minority of states and cities where it is required by law. The list of malefactors includes the giants of fast food, like McDonald’s, Subway and Chick-fil-A, as well as sit-down restaurants like Cracker Barrel, Outback Steakhouse and the Cheesecake Factory.
And it’s not just restaurants. The data also shows most workers at the supermarket chains Wegmans, Kroger, Meijer and Giant Eagle reported that they did not get paid sick leave. So did workers at retailers including American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret and the Gap.
Waffle House, purveyor of cheap breakfasts throughout the south, has agreed to pay sick leave to exactly one person who became infected with the coronavirus. They would not commit to help anyone else, and their snotty attitude towards the health of their customers is captured well by the Times:
The company declined to comment on its existing paid sick leave policy, but 99 percent of surveyed Waffle House workers said that they don’t get paid sick days. Asked whether customers might reasonably be concerned about eating at a restaurant that refuses to pay sick workers to stay at home, Ms. Boss said the company expected sick workers to stay at home. And would Waffle House commit to paying workers for acting responsibly? “That’s a matter between us and our associates,” she said.
Other companies include: Taco Bell, Bob Evans, Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, Publix, Marriott, Applebee’s, Dominos, Walgreens, Texas Roadhouse, Sonic, Holiday Inn, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Ross, Target, Panera, Wegman’s, TJ Maxx, IHOP, Starbucks, GAP, CVS, and Lowe’s. There are others as well, graphed out in the article by number of employees.
These are either companies that flat out do not provide paid sick leave to most employees, or had workers who told the Times that they couldn’t get it, even though it was supposedly available. Significantly, many employees of companies—such as Walmart and Chipotle—which claim to provide such leave, told the Times that when they actually got sick, they couldn’t get it. That’s because they were either unaware of it, or were concerned about the consequences of asking for it. In one circumstance, Chipotle fired an employee who requested three paid sick leave days.
As the Times Editorial points out, paid sick leave is standard practice in many developed countries, and is also the law in thirteen US states and several major cities. Industry complaints that they just can’t afford it fly in the face of the many companies, such as In & Out Burger (best burgers by the way!), Fred Meyers, Safeway, Stop & Shop and (even) Home Depot which do provide it.
The Times actually comes out and recommends you boycott these companies until they get their act together: “Americans looking for a place to eat or shop can protect their health, and encourage executives to do the right thing, by shunning businesses that refuse to provide paid leave.”
And hey, if you do choose to continue patronizing these places, well, enjoy that burger!