Saturday, February 06, 2010

Gustapo at Red Lobster

Or perhaps a little Mother Russia - KGB is out to get us.

I've been asked now by a number of people whether I am aware of the below censorship attempt coming from Orlando. And yes, I'm aware of it. I'll address it at some point further than this, but thought I'd put it out there for discussion at this point. I don't think we get the option of not signing it. I'm sure they'll make an example out of someone to scare everyone else. That's the corporate mentality. Maybe it'll be me. If so, I won't hold back as I honestly am currently. Not sweating it one way or another. If Red Lobster wants to take me down, I'm the small fish, they can do so. But the funny thing is that Stalinist attempts at censorship often creates martyrs. Will I dive on the grenade if it comes to that - we'll just have to see, but the equation is decidedly balanced in my favor on this one. Just how much publicity do you think I could get if this gets ugly? I'm betting a lot. Does Darden want to roll that dice in this economy?


Below is a report from CNN (the typo's are not mine!):

http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-402842

I'm an employee at Red Lobster, which is owned by Darden Restaurants.

We are being forced to sign an agreement that, for the most part, forbids us to blog, or if looked deeply into enough, even TALK about what goes on in the workplace. This "agreement" even reaches into our "off hours" lives.

I've attached a scanned version of the actual page that details the internet/blogging policy. What bothers me so much about this is the fact that the policy is SOOO vague that it could include anything. Vague policy IS the heart of censorship!

Here's an excerpt:

"When internet blogging, chat room discussions, E-MAIL, TEXT MESSAGES OR OTHER FORMS OF COMMUNICATION reveal confidential and/or proprietary information about the company or include inappropriate discussions abour co-workers, guests, or others, the employess may be violating the law and is sublect to disciplinary actions, up to and including termination of employment."

I'll leave it at that for now (read the entire policy if interested), but that little phrase is what makes this just seem wrong to me.

How can we even be hinted upon to control what we put in our emails or text messages? Who has access to this outside of us, the people writing and receiving them? Does the Patriot Act extend to Red Lobster?

Finally, what are these "other" forms of communication outside of the internet realm? Speech? Morse Code?

I'm not a lawyer, but something just doesn't smell right about this policy, I just can't put my finger on it.

I know it's wrong to slander someone or to give away company secrets (like what's the seven secret spices in the Colonol's chicken); but outside of that, we can say what we want. If I want to blog about how my boss sucks, I should be able to do so. Just so long as I don't say, "Mr. John Doe sucks because he's a loser and has no life.", I'm covered under the law.

So, am I wrong in these thoughts or am I just looking too deep into it? I don't think I am because this has become a BIG issue at my Red Lobster. And this is only one store in a small town, I'm sure it can't be going over well in the larger areas.

Censorship always starts small.

15 comments:

Himmy said...

I think the person who put that on CNN is being a little paranoid. In my opinion, Darden is not telling us that we cannot blog or communicate about our job, but that if we do, we musn't speak negatively about co-workers or guests or reveal confidential company information. And if we do speak our opinion, we must disclose that it is our own opinion and not that of the Company. This was pretty much already part of our standards, but now it's being spelled out for those who might have been unclear about it. But for what it's worth, the name "lobster boy" did come up in our crew meeting today.

Lobster Boy said...

Himmy,
Thanks for the comment(s)! Would love to hear more about how I came up in your meeting - context, what said etc. Care to share which store you work it (I understand if not). For the record, I've never named a single guest or co-worker, and am generally vague about specific guests with a few notable exceptions - most of which nobody could identify anyhow.

JS said...

Wow. I was searching to see when LobsterFest started, so I could use the 25 gift card my father gave me for Xmas, and I came across this. I think it's outrageous. The 2nd Amendment cannot be qualified at all, to the point where it's okay to where guns openly at Starbucks? But corporations can completely muzzle their employees right to free speech as a condition of employment? Something has gone terribly off the tracks with the original intent of our constitution to promote a decent human society. Corporate robots and special interest fanatics seem to have a lot to do with it.

Lobster Boy said...

JS -

Lobsterfest basically parallel's Lent (though not exactly). Come any time during Lent and you're sure to hit it.

Lobster boy

Jenny said...

Have you noticed that the profile of the person who posted this on CNN is no longer available? Could be paranoia speaking, but that can't be good.

Amanda said...

The name Lobster Boy also came up in my meeting. It looks like you stirred up quite a mess, sir.

dee said...

What I read, and how it was explained at our restaurant meeting, was that you needed to have a disclaimer on your blog that states that your blog isn't the view of Darden as a whole. But, yeah, if you were terminated you could definitely sue under your First Amendment rights. When we got to this part of the handbook I thought immediately of your blog, which even OUR managers read. Because it is funny.

evilrl said...

Please post more about this on your blog. Every server at my store LOVES to read your blog. And at the meeting we couldn't believe they told us what we can and can't say. It is so ridiculous. Also I was wanting to ask for some comments on a particular issue servers have at our store... At our store if a server has three POS errors in six months they are given the choice to be demoted(busser, host, line cook, dish washer, etc.) OR quit. And they write up people for POS errors like crazy. Even if the guest messes up and or orders the wrong thing we get a write up. BUT, the kitchen messes up all the time. Our back of the house makes the servers job hell. We have to do almost everyones job for them in addition to our own. Orders constantly get messed up by the cooks and their obvious mistakes are then overlooked by the ACs. Our food is over cooked or at times they just forget to make things. But they never get into trouble for their mistakes. If a table gets a rock tail they better be ready to wait 50+ minutes because they are always frozen. Servers who have been at our store are constantly in fear of getting fired because of POS errors, while the back of the house gets away with everything. Everything that goes wrong at our store the managers turn around on the servers. EVERYTHING!

evilrl said...

Oh I left something out....
That is my opnion only and not that of Darden. LOL

Alyssa said...

I was also weary of this, because they specifically told us "social networking sites like Facebook, etc." which makes me nervous because I have several of my co-workers on my facebook page, and of course all my friends know where I work, but I never specifically mention on my page that I work at The Lobster.

Also angering was that you apparently now are not allowed to refuse to wait a table. We have had tables come in and make servers very upset to the point of crying before. I think that the obnoxious behavior of our guests just for the sake of business when it clearly creates a distressing environment for all involved is ridiculous enough in and of itself. We employees already have our hands tied to an incredible degree.

I even wanted to post something about work tonight on Facebook and stopped myself. First they take away our smoke breaks and now this?

CJ said...

Hey everyone,

I was fired by Darden (Capital Grille employee for 3+ years) for writing my serving blog. I NEVER identified myself or the restaurant prior to the firing. They are serious. Of course, they haven't fired the managing partner who was sleeping with his employee and drinking with the staff or the executive chef who makes out with bartenders in the supply closet. But the regional manager, Mary Simpson, protects her managers because they protect her. Word on the street is she disappears for weeks at a time on pill binges brought on by personal break-ups. But yeah, you really have to worry about that server/certified trainer who always shows up for work and writes a silly blog. She might REALLY damage the company.

CJ
http://frothygirlz.com/category/in-the-weeds/

P.S. Hi Darden. It's me again.

mth1974 said...

I feel especially oppressed in my restaurant as to things I cannot say and I am also terribly pissed off about not being able to clock out and go outside and smoke when I am not busy and there are three two-tops in the restaurant at 2:45 in the afternoon. I got really mad the other day and called out one of my managers in front of about eight other crew members about how it sucks that they won't let me go home on a holiday because I am legitimately sick but the "rule book" explicitly states that I should not be working. The double standards and loose interpretation of the rule book is an ongoing problem in my restaurant. I continue to work there for one reason, I make money, and I make lots of it. Too bad they can't cut people a little slack from time to time.

John said...

You should have a blog.... about the new shrimp they are serving. It comes from a sweat shop in China. Images of what the factory looks like and the employees were only seen by managers, in their respective meetings. The new shrimp is hand-made and then frozen, including the new scampi. All the new shrimp contains no alcohol (chablise) which makes the shrimp so darn salty when cooked. That's where most of the guest complaints occur - not preparation steps. Instead they use a mixture of water, soybean extract, sugar, and other harmful chemicals to inject flavor. All the scampis, contain tons of ingredients no one can pronounce or even say. On top of that, almost 95% of the food served in Red Lobster contains harmful chemicals, and about 60-75% contain MSG. 85% contain some form of xantham gum, or soybean extract. Yuck!

John said...

You should have a blog.... about the new shrimp they are serving. It comes from a sweat shop in China. Images of what the factory looks like and the employees were only seen by managers, in their respective meetings. The new shrimp is hand-made and then frozen, including the new scampi. All the new shrimp contains no alcohol (chablise) which makes the shrimp so darn salty when cooked. That's where most of the guest complaints occur - not preparation steps. Instead they use a mixture of water, soybean extract, sugar, and other harmful chemicals to inject flavor. All the scampis, contain tons of ingredients no one can pronounce or even say. On top of that, almost 95% of the food served in Red Lobster contains harmful chemicals, and about 60-75% contain MSG. 85% contain some form of xantham gum, or soybean extract. Yuck!

dos said...

Ha I love that one comment about "Double Standards" that is true of RED LOBSTER. Not only that does "Understaff" ring a bell. Hey I am sorry if the new server is 45 minutes late. Your sending him home with a line at the door! Wow, and how does this help the resturant as a whole. (what happened to write ups?) I am so sorry if customers want to seat themselves..and one is not watching. Opps a manager threw in a fourth table but whose to blame! In this business could it be who you are sleeping with then got slapped? There is too many different standards, very short staffed and managers assume you should learn it thier way, and exactly which way is that way? It seems to change daily.