A Chick-fil-A in North Carolina posted a job opportunity on Facebook that offered to pay “volunteers” in chicken, not money.
The store, in Hendersonville, is celebrating the opening of its new “Drive Thru Express” like this: “We are looking for volunteers for our new Drive Thru Express!,” the Facebook post, which was just deleted after getting widely dragged, read. “Earn 5 free entrees per shift (1 hr) worked. Message us for details.”
The post racked up 265 comments before being deleted. Many of the commenters pointed out that Chick-fil-A is a massively popular fast food chain whose owners are worth roughly $14 billion and thus should not be asking people to illegally work for free. Like many fast food operations, some Chick-fil-A stores are franchises that are quasi-independently operated. The Hendersonville location is a franchise, according to local reporting. Chick-fil-A corporate did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reached by phone, Ryan—a manager at the Hendersonville location who did not provide his last name—defended the idea. “What happens with some brands in a community is that they establish a relationship with the community. As a result, there’s an expression of desire from the community to be more a part of what that brand is doing,” Ryan said. “We get people all the time that want to be a part of what we’re doing. This is designed to be an opportunity for that.”
Ryan said he was not in control of the Facebook account and declined to comment on the post.
“Thanks for everyone’s concern on this matter,” the store said in response to a post that said it should not be offering “volunteer” positions. “This is a volunteer based opportunity, which means people can opt in to volunteer if they think it’s a good fit for them. We’ve had multiple people sign up and enjoy doing and have done it multiple times. People who sign up for this chose it voluntarily. We are still hiring full-time and part-time team members, so if you are interested in working in our store, we pay $19/hr.”
“During the launch of our new drive thru express we offered opportunities for customers to earn free food to simply traffic direct other guests,” another post by the store read. “Usually a win-win for us and the volunteer who gets free Chick-fil-A! That way, our team can focus on serving the guests in what we do best.”
If you live near a Chick-fil-A, then you know that the lines get so long that traffic spills into major roadways and often causes traffic jams.
That’s why locations like Hendersonville have been building these Drive Thru Express lanes. Stores that have them use a portion of the parking lot to build out multiple drive-thru lanes worked by multiple employees. But it does require employees to work, and it looks like Hendersonville is so hard up for staff that it’s asking for volunteers to work for nuggets and sandwiches. This location famously employed Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn for five years.
Asking for labor and paying with nuggets isn’t the first time the fast-food giant has been criticized. The controversies surrounding its founder, his opinions on the LGTBQ community, and money the company has donated to anti-LGBTQ causes is so vast and complicated it necessitates its own Wikipedia article.
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