On Friday, Jacksonville, Fla., Mayor Lenny Curry ordered a mandatory evacuation for certain parts of the city in anticipation of Hurricane Irma. One Jacksonville Pizza Hut manager, however, was not having it.
Time magazine and CNN report that one local Pizza Hut restaurant warned its employees they would face consequences if they evacuated Friday—per the mayor’s instructions—because it was too far in advance. The information appears to have been relayed through a flyer, which has since been shared on social media.
The flyer, which appears to be posted on a restaurant bulletin board, begins by stating that the restaurant’s “#1 priority is the safety and security of our team”—before urging its beloved team members to put their safety and security behind their shift obligations.
Some of the finer points from the restaurant memo:
- As a general rule of thumb, we close stores 6-12 hours before storm hits. Or night before if a daytime storm.
- If evacuating, you will have a 24-hour period before storm “grace period” to not be scheduled. You cannot evacuate Friday for a Tuesday storm event!
- Failure to show for these shifts, regardless of reason, will be considered a no call/no show and documentation will be issued.
- Expectation is that all TM’s work their schedule until storm related store closure (unless evacuating), then a 24 hour period will be given.
- In the event of evacuation, you MUST return within 72 HOURS.
Makes sense. I know when I’m packing up my belongings and moving to higher ground, my second or third thought after packing up the car is definitely, “Yo, I hope Pizza Hut is open so I can grab some garlic knots on my way to salvation.”
The missive reads like a corporate remix of “I wish a team member would evacuate during a mandatory evacuation.” But there are a number of factual issues with the signage that’s been shared on social media. Hurricane Irma, at least for Florida, was no “Tuesday event” for the state, having made landfall in the Keys this past Sunday as a Category 4 storm.
There’s also the contradictory information further down, with a manager urging employees to “prepare NOW” shortly after telling them not to evacuate more than 24 hours before the storm.
The company responded to the reports with the following statement (pdf), which was published in the Time piece:
We absolutely do not have a policy that dictates when team members can leave or return from a disaster, and the manager who posted this letter did not follow company guidelines. We can also confirm that the local franchise operator has addressed this situation with the manager involved.
A recent article in The Outline highlights the scope of this problem, following several instances of Florida workers who were warned or reprimanded against evacuating. Notably, most of the people interviewed for the article worked service-industry jobs: sources for the piece worked at Lowe’s, Texas Roadhouse and Walmart, among others. Florida is an at-will state, meaning employers are well within their legal rights to fire an employee at any time, with no advance warning. Floridians who defied evacuation warnings from state officials for fear of losing their jobs weren’t completely unjustified. Still, the pressure to remain gainfully employed could have endangered Florida workers’ lives.
With power currently out through swaths of Florida—the Orlando Sentinel reports that central parts of the state could be without electricity and gas for days or weeks—it’s laughable to think about a Pizza Hut manager fretting about getting someone to mop the floors. That is, if it weren’t so damn sad.