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A group dedicated to the rights of food service workers called Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) has released an annual list of national restaurants and how they treat employees. A surprising number of U.S. restaurant chains fail to even meet the minimum requirements listed in the guide to be considered fair places to work or ethical places to eat.
The ROC National Diners’ Guide 2012 notes whether restaurants belong to ROC’s “High Road” Restaurant Roundtable program, which brings workers together “to promote the high road to profitability” in the restaurant industry, and then scores restaurants in four categories, the minimum wage for tipped workers, the minimum wage for non-tipped workers, whether or not workers get paid sick days and whether the company offers opportunities for advancement.
Darden restaurant group, which owns the chains Red Lobster, Capital Grille, Longhorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden, comes in for special scorn from ROC. Groups of Darden employees have sought ROC’s aid in cases involving discrimination and “wage theft,” a system by which restaurants deny pay to employees through practices like working off the clock, including asking servers and other employees to do “side work” like rolling silverware, filling salt and pepper shakers and other custodial duties without clocking in, or assigning tipped employees non-tipped tasks without changing their pay rate for those hours.........