Three screenshot panel from a TikTok where a man asks a Dunkin' employee about his working conditions

@paul.surf/TikTok

‘How long have you gone without a break?’: Dunkin’ employee shares working conditions in viral TikTok

'Labor laws do nothing in fast food.'

 

Jennifer Xia

IRL

Published Jul 18, 2021   Updated Jul 21, 2021, 9:57 am CDT

A man filmed a video asking a Dunkin’ worker how long they had been going without a break, sparking a debate on working conditions in fast-food chains. 

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@paul.surf

No breaks, no food, what’s up @dunkin?? #laborlaws #exploitation #givedevonabreak

♬ Oh No – Kreepa
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The man, Paul Schmidt or @paul.surf on TikTok, works at a surfboard shop next to the Dunkin’ in Rockaway Beach, New York and goes to the Dunkin’ often to get coffee. When he overheard a customer complaining about the wait time, he decided to ask one of the workers, Devon, questions about working conditions.

The video garnered more than 654,500 views with the comment section filled with people wanting to help the worker. 

“@dunkin, you got some explaining to do!!!” one user commented.

The worker revealed that he had been working seven to nine hours without a break. “Which I’m pretty sure are against labor laws but you know,” the worker says in the video.

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In New York state, employers are required to allow employees working six or more hours to take a meal break of at least 30 minutes. According to WorkforceHub, ”If the employee requests a meal break, then it must be granted.” 

“I would actually cry if someone asked how long it’s been since I ate or had a break,” one user commented. “Labor laws do nothing in fast food.”

The video sparked a discussion on the proper breaks and compassion that should be given to essential workers. 

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“If y’all are in here saying you work longer without breaks and saying it’s normal, please just reflect,” one user commented. “Breaks are so important. Customer service ruins you.”

When Schmidt asks how long it had been since they had eaten, Devon says it had been around five to six hours. Schmidt came back another day and told the worker he had reached out to corporate but had gotten a robo-response. 

“I emailed corporate and was told the franchise owners would get back to me, but they didn’t,” Schmidt wrote in the comments. “@dunkin.”

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The worker shares that he wants to intern at graphic design companies in the future.

“I know it’s a hard field to break in, so I’m just trying to save up money now and pad out the time it takes for me to get into a proper career plan,” the worker says in the video.

In a follow-up video, Schmidt shares that he used to work for Starbucks when he was younger and understood the frustration of “making a business heaps of money while you’re just barely scraping by and trying to pick up the slack.” Hopping onto a trend he had seen on TikTok, he opened his company Venmo to collect tips to give the employees at the Dunkin’. 

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“I was really floored at the response to Devon and the other staff’s working conditions over there in Dunkin’,” Schmidt says in the video. “It sounds like a lot of you shared similar stories and that’s really unfortunate … Thank you for caring.”

The video did receive some criticism about possibly putting the worker’s job at risk and more widely, urging others to actively support their local communities. 

“I’m not saying (they don’t) deserve a break,” one user commented. “What I’m saying is y’all should help your local communities just as quick as you are to someone online.”

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All donations to Schmidt’s company Venmo with the description #givedevonabreak will be donated as a tip to the Dunkin’ employees. 

The Daily Dot reached out to Dunkin’ for comment. 


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*First Published: Jul 18, 2021, 12:52 pm CDT