Hendersonville, NC

Chick-fil-A Location Hired “Volunteers” to Work For Chicken, Skirting U.S. Labor Laws

Joel Eisenberg

A North Carolina Chick-fil-A restaurant is under scrutiny as the location solicited workers for no money.

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Author’s Note

This article is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. Linked information within this article is attributed to the following outlets: Wikipedia.org, TheWashingtonPost.com, Facebook.com, Mashed.com, and Google.com.

Introduction

Though the above headline may appear tongue-in-cheek, it is not. What follows is a true incident presently placing the oft-beleaguered chain in the midst of another controversy.

In March of this year, NewsBreak published my article, “Plans for Chick-fil-A Closings in 2022,” a piece that in part addressed certain past controversies engendered by the chain but primarily served as a fact-check for widespread location closures.

The article excerpted the following overview from the company’s Wikipedia page: Chick-fil-A is one of the largest American fast food restaurant chains and the largest whose specialty is chicken sandwiches… The company operates 2,815 restaurants, primarily in the United States, with locations in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Future restaurants are planned in Hawaii, and will bring their presence in the US to 48 states and 2 territories. Though its former locations in the United Kingdom and South Africa are closed, Chick-fil-A's restaurants in Canada remain open.

My article went on to discuss individual location closings, but they were considered outliers and the chain remains financially among the strongest in the country.

This week, however, The Washington Post reported “N.C. Chick-fil-A Store Asks For 'Volunteers' to Work For Chicken, Not Money.”

The report caused its share of consternation in the media, which quickly spread the story and questioned the company’s skirting of U.S. labor laws.

Let us explore.

Chick-fil-A, Louisiana

As excerpted from The Washington Post article: “We are looking for volunteers for our new Drive Thru Express!" the store in Hendersonville, N.C., wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday that has since been deleted. "Earn 5 free entrees per shift (1 hr) worked. Message us for details."

Predictably, the post was largely met with outrage.

The article further stated, elaborating on the matter of U.S. labor law: The store has been met with backlash for appearing to ignore the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the long-standing federal law that states how employers must pay their employees for all of the hours they work. The Hendersonville location, which is run by a franchisee, responded to the online blowback by saying the "volunteer-based opportunity" was intended for people who "think it's a good fit for them," and argued it was different from full- or part-time employment.

A spokesperson for the chain has stated the individually-owned location has since canceled the program. Further, the Facebook post has likewise been deleted.

On the record of individually-owned locations, Mashed.com earlier this year published, ”Weird Rules Chick-fil-A Workers Have to Follow,” which alluded to the pressures of operating a franchise location: If you work hard and you have a spot of good luck, owning one Chick-fil-A franchise can make somewhat flush as well, but you'd better not try to expand your fast food restaurant empire beyond that one location, because that's against the rules. According to Franchise Business Review, Chick-fil-A franchise owners may only have one Chick-fil-A restaurant at any time and no other business ventures. 

Regarding the North Carolina store, the owner tried something new to improve their entity’s bottom line and it was quickly disallowed.

Conclusion

U.S. labor laws have long been in place to define and eliminate illegal hiring practices. For now, the North Carolina location remains in operation, but fines are expected by analysts — as a targeted Google search will verify — for the discontinued volunteer operation.

I will continue to post updates on the matter here, on NewsBreak, as they are reported.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

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