And A Side of Fraudulent Fries With Extra Assault, Please

Looking south at Red Lobster, 7th Avenue & 41st

Image via Wikipedia

So this robber goes into a restaurant and asks the manager…..  Sound like the beginning of the 6:00 News or just a bad joke?  Actually, it is a little of both.

Robert Smith, 38, submitted an online application for a job at a local New York Red Lobster Restaurant.  Upon receiving no response from Red Lobster, he called the restaurant repeatedly to no avail.  On the fifth day, however, he called and did finally talk to the manager of the Red Lobster who informed him that she didn’t hire convicted felons.

Smith was apparently offended and humiliated by her remark and decided to do what has become a favorite American pastime … he filed a lawsuit.  And, according to the current New York statutes that do not give employers the discretion to turn away convicted job applicants, he might just have a case.

According to various media outlets, this man has been sentenced at least twice …. not once … but twice …. to a state prison (and this is based on the earliest media reports), for at least three counts of robbery.  I might point out that the robbery part … those were the number of robberies of which he was actually convicted.

I have to say that I’m just not feeling the offense and humiliation Mr. Smith states that he has suffered.  I do feel the suffering and fear of those that this man was convicted of robbing.  I’m pretty sure the victims were offended as well.

This lawsuit and story may go away silently into the night.  Or, it may blow up into one huge controversy with lines being drawn and sides being chosen.

I can hear the gentle hearts out there saying that everyone deserves a second chance to turn his life around.  With that being said, since he has reportedly served two stints in prison, I would think we are actually giving him a third chance.  I also believe the primary reason we send people to prison is get them off the street and to lock them away from society so they can do no more harm.  I believe (in my humble opinion) that any rehabilitation that actually does take place is a perk for the tax payers footing the bill of those imprisoned.

I would also ask that the “gentle hearts” answer one question before screaming about rights and giving someone another chance.  Would YOU invite someone into your home to do your housework, yard work …or take care of your children, if you knew they had spent a decade in prison (two separate terms) for three counts of robbery?  I mean … seriously… ask yourself that.  If the answer is yes, God bless you and if you send me your name, address and telephone number, I will do my best to see he gets the information.  If you hear your inner voice saying “oh, hell no!”  then don’t be too quick to jump on the ex-con’s side of this.

Looks like Red Lobster is between a crab shell and a lobster tail.  If the company is forced to hire him (or any of the other criminals who feel they are being discriminated against because of their previous crimes …seriously??), they then run the risk of being sued by an employee or customer if placed in a dangerous situation because of said employee.  And … just how many more law suits will pop up because employers have the audacity to refuse ex-cons employment?

Bottom line for this writer …. I believe the owners of small businesses and large corporations, alike, should have the right to hire the people that they feel comfortable with and that represents their company in the best light for them.

I wonder … if Red Lobster ends up having to hire this guy… if they will change some of the menu items to reflect the policies being forced upon the company.

“Ummm, let’s see …. I’ll have the Devils Island Crab, with the Penne Tentiary Pasta, and the Attica Asparagus, please.  Oh, and a side order of the fraudulent fries with extra assault … and if you could bring the battery cheese biscuits now, that would be great.  And, I’ll have one of those Specialty drinks …ummm …yes, the Robsterita with an extra shot, please”

8 responses to “And A Side of Fraudulent Fries With Extra Assault, Please

  1. Oh, you sooo CRACK my claw, Debbie! ROFL

  2. Linda! Thank for you stopping by! I don’t want to go off “half-baked”, but I confess I am a little “steamed” by this guy and about to simply “boil over”. Ok, I’m done for now. :o).

  3. Debbi Tannock

    Interesting dilemma! I used to work in HR and we didn’t hire folks that had felonies either. But we weren’t supposed to tell them that. It can set off events such as the lawsuit above. Usually we told the applicant that they didn’t meet our ‘criteria’.

    Its a fine line that employers have to walk!

  4. I would be willing to bet that the Manager at that location is in hot water (karma, maybe, but I could be fishing) :o) for not saying exactly what you did. That he didn’t meet their criteria. Problem there is, apparently, he had worked at an Appleby’s for six years prior doing the same kind of work as the position available. Employers do have to walk a fine line. Sometimes that is good, but when you are forced to hire ex-cons against your own will … that is ridiculous. Hopefully this lawsuit will be thrown out. I hope that they don’t have to “settle” with this guy either.

  5. Whew! I’m relieved to live in Michigan. We’re employee-rights friendly, but we can refuse to hire a convicted felon if the crime could create a risk to the employees or the clients. Armed robbery would prevent him from any position where he handled cash. So, is this guy willing to work in the back of the house?

    Oh, and Debbi, before you send my name off to this person, I have to see if I feel that the person has truly changed their ways or not. Somehow, I have this feeling that this guy has some anger management issues to overcome.

  6. Well well, at least Joye is half way on board with me. Since I work with the unemployed population as an Employment Specialist and have been in a postion to hire people with felonies, I beg to disagree with you. We presently employ a young man as an “Ex-offender Case Manager” who has multiple felonies in his past. He works with the ex-offender population in order to help them turn their lives around.

    If all employers never give an ex-offender a chance, he/she WILL re-offend. It is
    a vicious cycle. Perhaps the young man in the Red Lobster incident is truly ready to turn his life around. If the position he is seeking is in the back of the house, as a dishwasher or a line/prep cook, this would be an ideal position to begin his new life with. Why do we wish to keep people incarcerated while we foot the bill instead of giving them a shot at a decent life and a way to become a taxpaying contributing member of society? I hope the lawsuit nets good results for the man filing it. Not so much for him but for the dignity of all other ex-offenders who want to make their lives right again. This makes no sense to me.

    Also, the person who spoke to that man in the manner that they did needs a lesson in tact and in HR, as Debbi stated. ALL people have dignity, even those who made mistakes, even three of them. Since my brother has multiple felonies, I have first hand knowledge of how tough it is out there. He has not been able to find any work except under the table construction jobs. He has not reoffended in years. His crimes were not violent but drug related as many are.

    • Joyce, thank you for your perspective regarding the situation with Red Lobster. I personally have experienced nearly the same situation as the man in New York. I was 18 when I got a felony charge for having a bag of weed. I never sold or attempted to sell any, but that’s what I was charged with. I was given a sentence of probation, which I successfully completed. It’s been 25 years since that happened. I have committed no other crimes!Since then, I have raised two children by myself while working full time as a bartender and going to school part time to earn a degree. I have an A.A. in Science and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. Not realizing what a felony meant at 18, I now am shocked to learn that my degrees are useless. I cannot obtain any type of licenses to utilize what I have learned and earned. The bar that I worked for
      has changed ownership due to the death of the owner. My children are now grown. So, as any good mother would do, I put my kids first while working towards a future that would include redemption for the mistake I made so long ago. I had hoped to help people who are stuck in the drug cycle as IT IS A DISEASE and a major driver of crime. So, I go out into the world with excitement that I could obtain a fulfilling job in my study area now that I have an empty nest. Well, I learned quickly that will never happen due to being an ex felon. As I stated earlier, I have been a bartender who worked front of the house for many years, handling a lot of cash and credit sales, etc. In fact, I worked my way up to the head bartender position where I was in charge of all other staff. In fact, I ran the place. I had the keys to everything. My boss would go on vacation, and I was responsible for the entire business. I never had any problems. I’m probably a better candidate to be in HR than the fools that are actually in those positions. Here’s my current dilemma. I was called for an interview to be a server at Red Lobster. I was told that my experience and knowledge of Darden was wonderful and that the interviewer would call me that evening to set up my interview with the GM, then I would get started with orientation. Well, that call never came. I called back the next day and was told that he/she has my number and that he/she would be calling me back. Two days went by and still no call. So, I then took a professionally written thank you for the interview letter and dropped it off for the person who interviewed me. A week goes by, and still no call back. Today, I called again and was told that both managers were out of town and that the person on the phone would leave a note for them to call me. I know exactly what’s going on here. I’m being discriminated against due to the felony charge on my record. Red Lobster asks if you’ve been convicted of a felony in the past ten years on the application. I checked no, BECAUSE I HAVEN’T! Red Lobster does in-house background checks. In my state, they can do a background check and they do not have to tell you that they did one. And you don’t have a right to know what they found. So, the people in charge of hiring are avoiding me. I’m qualified for the position, but they keep avoiding me. All that has to be said is, the position has been filled. The manager doesn’t even have the common sense to handle the situation. He/she knows that I know what he/she is doing. And he/she is probably afraid of what to say due to what happened with the man in New York. I should at least be entitled to a simple response to the outcome of the hiring decision. I went to dinner there one evening when I had called earlier that day and was told that the manager wasn’t there. You should have seen the look on his/her face when my friends and I came in. The manager took off and I didn’t see him/her during the time I was there. How ridiculous! If I don’t get a response soon, I’m going to report it to corporate and the DLLR in my state as I am enrolled in a similar program that you are working in to help people with criminal backgrounds gain meaningful employment. There are two kinds of people in the world, those who have been caught doing something wrong and those who haven’t. There are no perfect people! And he or she that is without sin, please cast the first stone as Debbie has so willingly jumped in to do. I wonder if Debbie realizes that if she is going just 10 miles over the speed limit and accidentally causes an accident that kills someone that she would be facing an involuntary manslaughter charge and would then be a criminal and face the same hardships that others who’ve made mistakes do. Hypocrites are in great supply……Darden needs to be held accountable for the discrimination that is practiced within the company. I’m sure there are countless people who have been subjected to this hiring practice and they don’t even realize it. I’m sure Darden has instructed all of it’s managers never to say a thing like that to an employee again lol. You should check out the employee blog that’s on the net about how the Darden company implemented a tip sharing program to take money from the servers to offset the pay cut that was given to the bartenders who took a $7.50 per hour pay cut because Darden’s stock prices fell dramatically in 2008 and 2009. There are managers on there arguing back and forth with employees who are disgruntled about the pay cuts they’ve taken. But the managers didn’t get any pay cuts! If you follow the blog, you’ll see just how unprofessional the managers can be. I’m sure there are good managers, but at the end of the day, it’s every man/woman for themselves at the Darden restaurants. I’m going to email my professor and tell him about this situation. I’m sure he’ll remove Darden or intensify the study of the company and what it’s practices are NOW! WOW! I will hound the interviewer to death until I get a proper response. I don’t expect to be hired, but they owe applicants the common courtesy of what the hiring decision is when someone is called in for an interview. Shame on Red Lobster and Darden Inc.

  7. Hi Joyce and thank you for your comments as your opinions and ideas are much valued. I, like you, have someone in the family that has been in and out of jail. The difference is that he really doesn’t have any intention of turning his life around, and I wouldn’t trust him alone in my house.

    I don’t have a problem with someone who is sincere about turning his life around. Or employers who hire them. The problem is, that if you don’t know that person, you really don’t know if he is sincere are not and when you own a business and have employees and customers, you may … or may not … be taking a huge risk. Bottom line is that I don’t think a business owner should be forced to hire someone with whom they are not comfortable. It should be their decision and not the state’s.

    And really, the message for me is, yes it is tough to get work because you have served time, so …. don’t commit crimes in the first place. I just feel that there should be some way to get the message across to young children before they make the first mistake. If ex-cons start suing because they feel an affront by society and win …. I think that is sending a really bad message. And for me, someone who chooses to rob people and buglarize, well … that’s not a “mistake.” That is bad character. It’s a choice they make, and, to me, not just a mistake. There are a whole lot of people out there that have had a bad life and they don’t turn to crime.

    Being on drugs doesn’t make someone less guilty of a crime (the one in my family), any more than a man coming home drunk and beating his wife. If you don’t want society to be reluctant to interact with you … then don’t commit crimes … period. How do we get the message across before people commit crimes? I wish someone knew the answer to that one. That to me is the answer for when it comes to footing the bill for those incarcerated. Finding solutions and helping the kids coming up now in life before they choose to commit a crime. That is how you lessen the tax burden on those of us footing the bill. It will not save us money now … but maybe it will the next generation … and the next.

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