UnderCover Waitress: At The Shareholder's Meeting Darden Restaurants

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

At The Shareholder's Meeting Darden Restaurants

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, better known as ROC United, has released their newest report on Dignity at Darden: Darden's  decision: Which  future  for  Olive  Garden,  Red  Lobster,  &  the  Capital  Grille?

This is on the same day (Tuesday, September 18, 2012) that members of ROC United and restaurant workers attended a shareholder's meeting with Darden CEO Clarence Otis. The Orlando Sentinel reports some of the details of the confrontation. 

"John Cronan, an organizer with Restaurant Opportunities Centers, said he was a former Capital Grille waiter often waited on customers while ill. "I couldn't afford to take a day off even if I was sick," he said.
Otis told him, "As a former worker, you know that we have very strict and aggressive rules to encourage people not to come to work when they're ill, so I'm glad you're a former employee and not a current employee.""
Cronan's comment to Otis was on the heels of Otis touting Darden as a great company to work for as he bragged about Darden's supposed record of great employee engagement. Otis' response to Cronan shows his true level of interest in his employee's well being.

To understand just how callous and out-of-touch Otis is with his employees, you need to know how different his lifestyle is from the people he employs. Forbes lists Otis' total compensation for 2011 as over 8 million dollars. 

"Compensation for 2011
Salary $1,022,169
Bonus $0
Restricted stock awards $1,869,007
All other compensation $489,876
Option awards $2,978,096
Non-equity incentive plan compensation $2,121,000
Change in pension value and nonqualified deferred compensation earnings $0
Total Compensation $8,480,148"

Otis has the audacity to look Cronan in the eye and chide him for having to work sick on a waiter's pay. Otis doesn't provide any sick time pay for hourly employees. (Does anybody have a salaried waitress or waiter job? Seriously?) And yet, good luck running a dining room without food servers. Seems an odd way to encourage employee engagement by slashing employee pay, denying benefits, then playing "holier than thou" when people can't afford to stay home when they are sick.

Otis did not wish to accept the invitation to meet with the workers. He continued to resist even as his shareholders encouraged him to listen to the workers and expressed their own concerns.

One shareholder:
"wondered if Darden could be losing some of its better servers because of policies such as one implemented last year that slashed bartenders' and busboys' hourly pay and required servers to share tips with them."
Gosh, I just don't know... maybe.


  1. I just quit because I was forced to work sick- I WANTED to stay home- I was running fever, and had already had to cover a shift the day before. I have been threatened with my job before even with a doctors note in my hand..and had to work. I just gave up, I can no longer work here with a good conscience, and they simply work you to death. I feel good, I know I did the right thing. I have something lined up already. I'm staying on top of this laws suit. This Otis is a liar. I know My managers are good people-just misled or coerced into doing these tactics.

  2. Our managers are puppets. They don't make up the rules but they are held to the fire to enforce them, we all know this! It starts with the regional and district level managers who push push push for higher productivity while simultaneously crush down labor hours. They have implemented all these "streamlined" approaches to squeeze workers pay while stretching them too thin. Our kitchen goes down DAILY! Why, one guy on two work stations, no support staff and no way to recover/compensate for lack of assistance. The "rare" brad that distinguished itself from the other like places has been turned into a glorified Mc D's, from food to staffing the whole thing is becoming a joke. Darden spend more in lobbying than it would cost to just give us the damn sick time, it's disgusting!

  3. Clarence Otis... one of the contenders for biggest douchebag on the planet. Yeesh!

  4. In my Ca OG location I was thankful for the tip-share program because there was never a guideline for how much to tip our bussing and bar staff. Many servers were tipping WAY too much out of fear of paying too little and not being helped buy those we tip. Now there is a fair guideline and we can give extra when we want to.
    I am very interested to see how things will change for us soon...


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