Chick-fil-A fans may dream of free food from the coveted chain, but for workers at one North Carolina location, it looks like all they got was free meals.
The Department of Labor has fined a chick-fil-A in Hendersonville, North Carolina, for paying employees who served as drive-thru traffic directors with meal vouchers instead of traditional wages.
The restaurant was ordered to repay seven employees $235 each, bringing the total monies owed to $1,645.
According to the report, denying workers minimum wage is a direct violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Sharp-eyed social media users caught the restaurant in a now-deleted post, screenshotted and shared on Twitter, of how the restaurant asked “volunteers” to direct traffic in exchange for five free meals per shift.
Hey @ChickfilA, can you explain why you allow a franchisee to post unpaid jobs? This is unacceptable. #chickfila #unionize pic.twitter.com/mR3RUOBRML
— Elon Musk (@Bona_Bones) July 27, 2022
“This is a volunteer-based opportunity, meaning people can choose to volunteer if they feel it would be a good fit for them,” the restaurant clarified in a screenshot response to angry commenters who claimed it was a violation of labor law. “We’ve had several people sign up who enjoy doing it and have done it multiple times.”
The Labor Department report also alleges that the restaurant allowed three employees under the age of 18 to operate a trash compactor, in violation of child labor laws, which prohibit minors from performing hazardous work.
“Protecting our youngest workers remains a top priority for the Wage and Hour Division,” said Richard Blaylock, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Raleigh, North Carolina, in a Department of Labor release. “Child labor laws ensure that young people at work do not jeopardize their health, well-being or educational opportunities. In addition, employers are responsible for paying workers for all hours worked and payment must be made in cash or legal tender.”
According to PayScale, Chick-fil-A employees make an average of $12.51 per hour, which ranges from $8.77 to $19.44 per hour. The average salary for an employee in North Carolina is $13.53.
The entrepreneur has reached out to Chick-fil-A for further comment.