Low-wage employees in the fast food industry have little to no recourse; it’s either gladly accept slave wages and continue the widening of the American waistband by selling heaps of unhealthy crap, or find yourself on unemployment. Apparently that was the scenario one hard-working and long-term employee of Subway faced.
Keith Fons, a resident of Oregon, was featured in an Oregonian story about the everyday challenges that low-wage workers face. The 35-year-old father worked 80 hours every week (that’s more than Congress works a year) at two Subway shops to support his wife, who has multiple sclerosis, and their three young children. Naturally his story captured the hearts and minds of the interwebz, with dozens of folks offering to help. For instance, one befriended Fons on Facebook and sent money.
But Subway, a company that made a once fat nobody, and future pedophile, its spokesperson, just simply wouldn’t stand for such insubordination.
After the release of his story, Fons was fired from his second job, at a 24-hour Subway in Oregon. Consequently, losing upwards of $2,000 a month for his family. WTF?!
Subway may not be very healthy, but its lawyers (I mean attorneys) definitely are.
According to Fons, he knew something was awry on Nov. 12, when the owner of both stores, Larry Dennis, happened to waltz into the store with a legal folder in hand. Dennis and his attorney presented Fons with a check for about $1,500 and asked him to sign a “confidential release agreement,” which ordered that he wouldn’t sue for back wages or divulge the terms. Not knowing what else to do, Fons ultimately signed the agreement
Although Fons worked up to 80 hours every week, he believed he did not accrue overtime because the stores were separate entities. State labor regulators say that is correct if the companies are truly distinct. When he was terminated, Fons said, he was told the working arrangement was a ‘legal gray area.’ Charlie Burr, a spokesman for the state Bureau of Labor and Industries, said the agency would look into the arrangement if it received a complaint – but it had not. Dennis, who owns the two companies that run the Subway franchises where Fons worked, declined an interview request and hung up on a reporter Monday. In a voicemail, he confirmed Fons still worked full time at the U.S. Bank tower store.
As if that weren’t enough, Subway managed to kick Fons in the nuts even harder when he was informed he needed to work one more graveyard shift, because no one else could cover it. Fons feels like he was wronged by Subway and throw on into the sword.
I’m done with this chapter,” he said. “Not by choice, but I’m done with it.
Sadly, millions of low-wage workers face this same type of dilemma each and every day. Moreover, fear of speaking out and losing their job, which is kinda crappy but keeping them afloat until they find more lucrative options. One longtime Portland labor advocate agrees.
Workers should be able comfortably to speak about the issues at work that concern them, said Michael Dale, executive director of the Northwest Workers’ Justice Project. It’s shameful if they are retaliated against for simply expressing what happens at work.
So long as corporations are people and allowed to furtively buy elections every year, we will continue to see crap like this.
Featured image via screen capture