The management of a Pizza Hut franchise penned a letter to their employees threatening to discipline their employees evacuating from Hurricane Irma if they did not show up for work within their prescribed time frames. Now, the company as a whole is facing an outpouring of public scrutiny over the policy.
A photo was first posted on Twitter showing a memo that was posted in the back room of a Jacksonville, FL Pizza Hut location with a details list of instructions and policies for their employees to follow as Irma neared.
The memo was addressed to all of the employees and laid out a policy for employees during the Irma situation. Some of these policies included things like employees were not allowed to evacuate more than 23 hours before the hurricane was to strike and that they had to return for work no later than 72 hours after the storm has passed. They asserted that the repercussions for violating these impromptu policies would be the same as if they failed to notify management that they were not coming to work and that they would be written up.
The part about evacuating no sooner than 24 hours before the storm hits is particularly dangerous as supplies such as water, food and gas may have been depleted by that time, not to mention the traffic could be horrendous as many people wait until the last hours before they leave their homes.
Twitter users wasted no time in doling out the heat to Pizza Hut. One user said that Pizza Hut wants its minimum wage workers to risk their lives for their own corporate greed. Another user noted that Pizza Hut is closed for Christmas, yet wants to send their delivery people to their death for a hurricane?
Pizza Hut's public relations team was win full swing by promptly issuing a statement denying that they have a franchise-wide policy that regulates when employees can leave or return from a natural disaster and that the particular manager that posted the mem was not following the corporation's guidelines. They also noted that the local franchise owner had addressed the situation with the said manager.
Many restaurant employees are often times faced with hard decisions when it comes to impending natural disasters. While some simply don't have the money to evacuate, others choose to stay in flood zones to ensure they won't lose their jobs due to policies similar to the one outlined in this particular memo.
Following natural disasters, many large restaurant and fast food chains have been noted to be among the first to aid the affected communities by donating water, food and supplies. After Harvey, McDonald's donated tens of thousands of water bottles to residents and free food to first-responders. Local fast food staple Whataburger set aside $1 million to aid its affected employees, along with $150k to the Red Cross and $500k to Houston area food banks.
Let's give credit where credit is due. In Houston, Pizza Hut also was a part of the relief efforts in the aftermath of the hurricane. They gave away countless pizzas to Harvey victims. One manager in particular, Shayda Habib, who is pregnant, even used a kayak to deliver the free pizzas to people who were stuck in flood areas of the city.
Unfortunately, the leaked memo from a lone Pizza Hut franchise may have overshadowed much of the company's goodwill they earned in Texas.