Applebee's Franchisee Employee Fired Over Viral Email Suggesting Lower Wage ‘Potential'

The email, widely circulated online, cited the end of pandemic-related government assistance and rising gas prices as opportunities to offer lower wages for 'paycheck to paycheck' employees

Restaurant Chains Applebee's
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Applebee's has confirmed that an employee of a Missouri-based franchisee has been fired after sending an email speculating that high gas prices and the end of pandemic stimulus money would force employees to work longer hours for lower pay.

“This is the opinion of an individual, not Applebee’s,” Kevin Carrol, Applebee’s chief operations officer, said in a statement, adding that the franchisee terminated the midlevel worker. The employee didn't work directly for Applebee’s.

A screenshot of the email was posted on Reddit, where it circulated widely.

"Everyone has heard that gas prices continue to rise," the email opened. "The advantage this has for us is that it will increase application flow and has the potential to lower our average wage."

"Most of our employee base and potential employee base live paycheck to paycheck. Any increase in gas price cuts into their disposable income. As inflation continues to climb and gas prices continue to go up that means more hours employees will need to work to maintain their current level of living.”

The missive also referenced the end of pandemic-related government assistance programs as an opportunity to squeeze worker wages.

Issues arose after someone shared the email last month with Jake Holcomb, who was the manager of an Applebee’s restaurant in Lawrence, Kansas.

Holcomb quit soon after he read the email. He also shared the email with employees of the restaurant where he worked at the time.

Holcomb said he printed a couple dozen copies and left them where servers could find them, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

“Then, I gave everyone in the restaurant their food for free and we just left; we didn’t even close the store,” he said, adding that he also shared the email with a friend who posted a screenshot to Reddit on March 21.

The restaurant remained closed the next day and the email began circulating widely online.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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