Most people have heard of Olive Garden and Red Lobster, fewer know that both mega-brands are owned by Darden Restaurants Inc — salads produced by Taylor Farms de Mexico sickened hundreds with cylospora last week, served at both Olive Garden and Red Lobster.
While it’s not shocking to learn of a disease outbreak stemming from any restaurant, Darden has a special relationship with disease. Contrary to their statement regarding the outbreaks, it is never “completely safe” to eat at Red Lobster, Olive Garden or any other Darden-owned brand (LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s and Yard House). In addition to paying the lowest wages possible to its employees (as low as $2.13 per hour), not providing health insurance or paid sick days for its workforce of 200,000 people, Darden actively supports blocking paid sick day legislation across the country; these bills often are the only opportunity for a low-wage worker to stay at home and recover instead of going to work sick. Just 2 years ago, hundreds were exposed to hepatitis A at a North Carolina Olive Garden location, the outbreak was a direct result of working while sick. In fact, our research shows that the majority (63%) of restaurant workers have worked while sick and 90% of restaurant workers lack paid sick days.
Most recently, Darden joined Disney to advocate for ALEC-authored HB655 in Florida, which preemptively banned paid sick bills from passing, despite widespread public support for such measures. Darden, with support from the National Restaurant Association and ALEC, are continuing efforts to preemptively ban local paid sick day ordinances across the country. Some bills override not only paid sick days, but living wage ordinances, wage-theft ordinances and more, all of which make Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and all Darden-owned brands an increasingly toxic place to work and eat.
Stand with restaurant workers by always telling management at your favorite spots that you support paid sick days and fair wages.
Check out our Diner’s Guide to learn which restaurants are already taking the high-road.