Hendersonville Chick-fil-A is facing intense online criticism after issuing a callout on social media for volunteers to work the restaurant’s new drive-thru express.
The fast-food chicken restaurant, located at 52 Highlands Square Drive, promised entrees instead of monetary compensation.
“We are looking for volunteers for our new Drive Thru Express!” the Hendersonville Chick-fil-A said in a Facebook post that has since been deleted after a flood of negative comments.
The post from earlier this week said volunteers would earn five free entrees per shift (one hour) worked, and asked those interested to message for details.
Hendersonville Chick-fil-A has declined to comment, and directed all media inquiries to the corporate press room. A spokesperson for Chick-fil-A responded via email and linked to a statement given to Business Insider. The corporate press team did not answer questions submitted by the Times-News.
A Chick-fil-A spokesperson told Insider on Wednesday that the company did not endorse the volunteer program and that the restaurant had decided to end it.
"Most restaurants are individually owned and operated, and it was a program at an individually owned restaurant," the spokesperson told the Insider.
A spokesperson told the Times-News that Chick-fil-A did not have a statement or anything additional to add to the information given to the Insider.
The Chick-fil-A Facebook page has been attracting comments on the matter, even after limiting who can comment on the page’s posts. A post featuring a back-of-house employee holding a young child eating an ice cream cone received comments such as “Found a volunteer that works for ice cream instead of sandwiches? It’s even cheaper. Be aware there are child labor laws in this country.” Another said, “Man those volunteers sure are young!”
One-star Google reviews of the Highlands Square location also started to pour in on Wednesday.
A thread on Reddit, a popular social news forum and discussion website, containing a screenshot of the post gained wide attention and received nearly 23,000 interactions and about 3,500 comments by Thursday afternoon.
A top commenter asked, “There is so much wrong here I don’t know where to start. But first of all: Why not just (give) money instead of vouchers? Aren’t they more than the minimum wage?”
The incident has also gained national media attention, including an online article on Vice. In addition to mentioning the same Chick-fil-A used to employ Rep. Madison Cawthorn, the news outlet pointed out that Chick-fil-A is a “massively popular fast-food chain whose owners are worth roughly $14 billion...” and linked to a June 2021 article from Business Insider that highlighted the Cathys, the family behind the chicken chain restaurant.
The Hendersonville locations are franchised. Joel Benson is the restaurant owner for both Hendersonville Chick-fil-A locations, 640 Spartanburg Highway and 52 Highlands Square Drive.
While the restaurant is now seeking volunteer labor, Hendersonville’s Chick-fil-A gained attention last summer after proudly announcing pay raises for employees. The franchise said full-time workers would start at $19 per hour starting Aug. 23, 2021. That was a jump from the previous April, when Chick-fil-A Hendersonville had promised staff $15 per hour. Not all employees were eligible for the $19 rate though. Workers who were 14 or 15 started at $12 per hour, and part-time employees at $14.
This article originally appeared on Hendersonville Times-News: Hendersonville Chick-fil-A faces backlash after asking for volunteers to work drive-thru