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‘Salary in food service is a joke’: Panera worker says she was promoted to ‘manager’ so restaurant would pay her less

'This isn't anything new! That's why I stay away from salary jobs.'


Jack Alban


Posted on May 24, 2023

A video highlighting a Panera worker who says she was promoted so the company wouldn’t have to pay her overtime has gone viral on TikTok.

The video is a repost of an NBC News Now American Dream report about Tiffany Palliser, the Panera employee in question. The clip was uploaded to TikTok by Faye-News-Gossip (@fayeluvsyou) on April 28. It has received nearly 245,000 views since.

@fayeluvsyou #news #workers #panera #lawsuit #fayeluvsyou #ohboy #money #fyp ♬ original sound – Faye-News-Gossip

Palliser says in the video that she ran the gamut of different job duties at Panera: “Maybe I would work cashier that day. Maybe I would work the line, prepping salads and doing things like that, and that’s where I spent the majority of the rest of my shift.”

According to the report, Palliser estimates that she worked 50-55 hours a week. In her new position as a manager, she was paid a salary rather than an hourly wage. However, she says she was never paid for the overtime she worked.

A reporter in the video states, “Palliser participated in a collective action complaint, accusing Covelli Enterprises, the largest franchise of the brand, of not paying hundreds of assistant managers overtime.”

“The lawsuit settled for several millions, and Palliser received a settlement payment,” the reporter continues.

The reporter goes on to state that “a growing number of employers are mislabeling rank and file workers as managers according to a recent paper. Why? The paper alleges companies actually want to avoid paying overtime. Federal law requires employers to pay time and a half overtime for people who work more than forty hours, or make less than about $35,500 a year.”

In a New York Times expose on Palliser, the outlet reported that she worked for a South Florida Panera location. Palliser said that while her regular shift was slated for 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., she often stayed late or came in to help when the store was short-staffed or someone called out.

“‘I would say, ‘My kids get out of school at 2. I have to go pick them up, I can’t keep doing this,’ said Ms. Palliser, who made from about $32,000 to $40,000 a year as an assistant manager. She said her husband later quit his job to help with their child-care responsibilities.”

Palliser also said she was told several times that she wasn’t receiving overtime pay for putting in the additional hours because “this is what [she] signed up for” when she became an Assistant Manager.

TikTokers who saw the Faye-News-Gossip story shared their thoughts on working salary positions in the comments section.

“Lol I was just offered a job where they said I may have to work 55 hours a week. I said am I getting OT? they said you are salary. nah I’m good,” one viewer wrote.

“Salary is a JOKE don’t do it,” a second penned.

“Salary in food service is a joke. Too unpredictable and you work people to death,” a third said.

Another person remarked that salaries are structured to protect the payouts that members of upper management receive annually: “This’s how CEOs make sure their bonuses & raises are untouchable.”

The Daily Dot contacted Panera via email and Palliser via Tweet for further comment.

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*First Published: May 24, 2023, 6:27 pm CDT