Flying chairs and customer brawls may be commonplace for Waffle House workers, but meal breaks apparently are not.
Employees at the Southern dine-in chain see a sizeable chunk of change removed from their paychecks each week for food consumed — even if they didn’t eat it, reported The Messenger.
Atlanta-based cook Gerald Green, who claimed he hardly eats in-house, told the outlet that the restaurant has docked him $39 for untouched food in the last three weeks — and “there’s no way to opt out.”
Now, “fed up” workers are rallying in picket lines, and 13,000 signed petitions to push Waffle House to hold the charge.
They’re also looking for other guarantees regarding higher wages and better safety protocols amid vicious customer brawls at the eatery that have been widely reported in recent years.
“Waffle House workers from across the South are fed up,” reads the petition from the Union of Southern Service Workers.
“We’re sick and tired of making poverty wages, the constant threat of in-store violence, and mandatory meal deductions – whether we eat a meal or not while on a shift.”
One South Carolina server finds the meal policy especially unfair since she hardly has a moment to indulge in their menu items.
“I’m usually the only server working second shift, so I am running around and don’t have time to eat a meal,” said employee Summer Schoolmeester-Cochran.
“But Waffle House still makes me pay for it.”
She’s not alone, says Georgia-based worker Cindy Smith.
“Eighty-five to 95 percent of us don’t even eat the Waffle House food,” she told Today.com. “We’re still having to pay for it.”
The mandatory charge has also increased of late and workers weren’t notified, Smith claimed.
“The meal deductions have always been taken out, but it was only, like, $1.50 per shift. Then they decided to start bumping it up. Every day that you work now, it is $3.75 that comes out of your check. That’s more than I make an hour.”
The Post reached out to Waffle House for comment.
Smith also said the charge makes it harder for her to afford the food she actually eats and that, paired with a lack of security, has her fuming.
“At one point, probably 2011, I was robbed at gunpoint,” she said. “Waffle House didn’t reach out, and I had to work my entire shift.”
When Smith joined the recent rally outside Waffle House’s headquarters in the Atlanta area, she said the bosses dismissed their concerns.
“We all stood out there. We were very quiet. We were not rude. We were not disrespectful,” she told “Today.”
“We only sent three people in to deliver 13,000 signed petitions for them to tell us if we did not get off the property, they were going to call the police, and they threw all 13,000 petitions in the trash.”