McDonalds, Other Fast Food Chains Earn Failing Grades For Employee Treatment

Nathan Francis

Their fast and cheap food may be popular with patrons, but restaurants like McDonald's, The Olive Garden and Red Lobster are earning low marks for how they treat employees.

The Restaurant Opportunities Center released its annual diner's guide, and in it called out several chain and fast food restaurants for unethical and sometimes illegal practices with regard to employees, Yahoo News reported.

While some smaller and regional restaurants and chains did earn good grades in the report, some of the most well-known eateries were chided for low wages, few or no benefits offered and underhanded wage practices. There were dozens that failed to meet the survey's minimum requirements for employees, including Applebee's, Burger King, Chuck E. Cheese, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Subway and Taco Bell.

Of the more than 4,300 restaurant workers surveyed for the report, 90 percent said they did not receive paid sick leave, Yahoo News reported. Two-thirds of respondents said employees routinely come to work sick—handling, preparing and serving food all the while.

"We all enjoy eating out," Restaurant Opportunities Centers write on the website for its National Diners' Guide 2012. "Unfortunately, the workers who cook, prepare, and serve our food suffer from poverty wages, no benefits like paid sick days, and little or no chance to move up to better positions. When the people who serve us food can't afford to pay the rent or take a day off when they're sick, our dining experience suffers."

The survey also found a gap in pay across gender and racial divides.

"Women, immigrants, and people of color hold lower-paying positions in the industry, and do not have many opportunities to move up the ladder," the report stated. "Among the 4,300 workers surveyed, we found a $4 wage gap between white workers and workers of color, and 73 percent reported not receiving regular promotions on the job."

Though ROC's list came out early this year, it gained attention recently thanks to New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, who reported that only one in eight jobs in the food industry pay better than 150 percent of the regional poverty rate. More than three-quarters of food service workers surveyed have no health insurance and more than one-third said their employers withheld or stole wages in the last week.