November 25, 2015

How Do They Treat Their Employees? America’s Worst Restaurants

ROC United, a nonprofit group that works to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce, has released their National Diner’s Guide for 2012 that rates the 150 most popular restaurants in the United States based on how they treat their employees. Last week we told you about The Hands That Feed Us, that reported on a survey that showed many food workers are paid minimum wage (or below), have no paid sick days (and therefore work while they are ill), no health insurance, are often food insecure, and have no opportunity for advancement.

This new guide will help consumers who want to vote with their pocketbooks pick restaurants that treat their employees well.

One issue is the federal minimum wage for tipped workers. Currently it stands at $2.13, and it hasn’t increased since 1996, when Herman Cain took over the National Restaurant Association. Tips are supposed to cover the difference between that wage and $7.25, which is the federal minimum wage for other workers. Employers are supposed to make up the difference if a worker doesn’t make $7.25/hour with tips, but they don’t always do that.

According to the Guide, these are some of the restaurants that do not treat workers well:

  • Applebee’s
  • Bob Evans
  • Boston Market
  • Burger King
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Carrabba’s Italian Grill
  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • Culver’s
  • Famous Dave’s
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • IHOP
  • Jimmy John’s
  • Kincaid’s Fish, Chop & Steak House
  • Longhorn Steakhouse
  • McDonald’s
  • Morton’s
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
  • Panera Bread
  • Papa JOhn’s
  • Perkins
  • Pizza Hut
  • Quiznos
  • Red Lobster
  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House
  • Sbarro
  • Starbucks
  • Subway
  • T.G.I. Friday’s
  • Taco Bell
  • Waffle House
  • Wendy’s
  • White Castle

And these are some of the restaurants that pay their employees well. Some offer insurance, paid sick days, and opportunities for advancement. There are far fewer of them.

  • Avalon
  • Ben’s Chili Bowl
  • Chaya Restaurant Group
  • Colors
  • Comida
  • Crema
  • Elephant Bar Restaurant
  • Five Guys Burgers and Fries
  • Good Girl Dinette
  • Guerilla Cafe
  • Houlihan’s
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • Jose Andres
  • Nectar
  • Pizzaiolo
  • Union Square
  • Wolfgang Puck’s Grille

You can download the Guide, which comes in a printable pocketbook format, at ROC United.


  1. I have worked in many Restaurants before and i can tell you this. I have worked in many because the experience i have had with these buisness are not on a professional level. Its more personal. I work in FLA and they have this thing where they can fire you over whatever they want too. The environment is always tense when working somewhere where the owners are horrible people and dont know how to run a buisness. I always worry about losing my apartment every day because i know i can be fired over looking at the manager the wrong way. I have also came across plenty of sexual harrasment. I feel as though the owners and managers dont care about you or what happens to you as long as you make them money. Its so sad to see these things and i live with it every day!

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