Shockingly, This Fast Food Company Treats Their Workers the Worst

As if fast food weren’t bad enough, there’s the plight of fast food workers. Low wages and bad working conditions have brought people to the street in protest around the nation, with workers demanding better wages. And while McDonald’s is often the one to get a lot of flack – after all, it was the company that launched an internal website with tips for employees that included breaking “food into pieces” which would give the illusion of more to eat — there’s another chain in town that’s currently in the standings for Worst Employee Treatment: Subway.

After doing an analysis of data from the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, CNN Money found Subway franchisees in violation of pay and hour rules in more than 1,100 investigations. Because each investigation can actually have multiple violations, there were more than 17,000 Fair Labor Standards Act violations found, resulted in $3.8 million of reimbursement to Subway workers.

What kind of violations are happening?

Not paying employees for time worked past their scheduled shifts, making “illegal deductions from employees’ wages when there were cash register shortages, causing their pay to fall below the federal minimum wage,” and “asking workers to sign contracts waiving time-and-a-half pay.”

Things are so bad that the Department of Labor has offered to partner with Subway to help them comply.

“It’s no coincidence that we approached Subway because we saw a significant number of violations,” a Department of Labor spokesperson told CNN Money.

Subway operates under a franchise model, which actually can help to reduce their accountability in situations like these. From CNN Money:

The fast food franchise model provides a layer of protection for Subway, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. Even though fast food locations may look the same and restaurants abide by similar branding and business guidelines, each franchise owner is treated essentially as a small business. Meanwhile, the corporate parents can distance themselves from being found liable of labor violations.

Those corporations are doing quite well financially. While Subway workers are making around $7.25 an hour, CEOs are certainly pulling in much more. Public policy and advocacy group Demos found that “in 2012, the compensation of fast food CEOs was more than 1,200 times the earnings of the average fast food worker. Proxy disclosures recently released by fast food companies reveal that the ratio remained above 1,000-to-1 in 2013.”

That’s a pretty big discrepancy. And there’s even a discrepancy vis-a-vis other industries. “The average CEO at fast food companies earned $23.8 million in 2013, more than quadruple the average from 2000 in real terms,” says Demos.

Numbers make the violations like Subway and their counterparts even more disturbing, especially when you look at recent reports that show that those executives are also benefitting from tax subsidies.

Subway might be the fast food chain with the most violations, but the fast food industry needs to be held accountable as a whole.

Photo Credit: vincent desjardins


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson4 years ago

With everything I have seen at Subway, I can believe this article.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe4 years ago

Subway, shame on you!

"Not paying employees for time worked past their scheduled shifts, making “illegal deductions from employees’ wages when there were cash register shortages, causing their pay to fall below the federal minimum wage,” and “asking workers to sign contracts waiving time-and-a-half pay.”

Lis T.
Elisabeth T4 years ago

Thanks for this information

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Not the Subways. Because, where I eat, because the Owner Treats the Workers with Respect and he Pays the Well. I certainly would not, Boycott them!

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld4 years ago

You are right to question the average compensation of $23.8M. According to the Demos report, from which this figure originates, only the salaries of the CEOs of the largest companies was included. There are Starbucks, YUM!, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Chipolte, Domino's, Panera Bread, Jack-in-the-Box, Sonic, and Papa John's. The data is skewed due to the 2012 compensation of Starbuck's Howard Schultz, who cashed in 7-years worth of stock options in 2012. Without his $137M compensation (his 2013 compensation was $17M), the average CEO of the other 10 companies was $8 million. The average of the hamburger joints (McD's, BK, and Wendy') was ~$6M. IF you were to factor in all the other fast food chains, it would drop further.

By the way, the year should read 2012 in the article, the 2013 salaries averaged ~$7M. Down 75%, but at that amount of compensation, what's a few million here and there.

Brenda P.
Brenda P4 years ago

Another good reason to boycott them.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown4 years ago

David F. proves once again that he lacks reading comprehension skills. The article presented the FACTS that Subway, like most fast food restaurants, make billions of dollars in profits while screwing over their workers.

So naturally David F. bravely supports the side of big business and argues that screwing over workers is a capitalist "success story."

Wow David, have you ever heard of the term "facade of legitimacy"? You should look it up.

Mike H.
Mike H4 years ago

Boycott Subway

Alice B.
Alice B4 years ago

Thanks for sharing !!