Steakhouse server says he wasn’t allowed to eat while working a 9-hour shift

@cadealex/TikTok Africa Studio/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

‘How is this legal?’: Steakhouse server says he wasn’t allowed to eat while working a 9-hour shift

‘As a server of 6 years if you want a break you go to the bathroom.’


Stacy Fernandez


This guy’s first day working at a steakhouse didn’t go as he expected. Now, he feels like the restaurant violated his rights.

“Why is this like slave labor camp? This is a job, OK? Not like freakin’ prison,” TikTok user Cade Alex (@cadealex) said in his clip, which has more than 350,000 views. “Like, is this legal?”

In the TikTok, Alex said he got a job at a steakhouse that would hold him over for a few months until he started grad school.

But he just completed his first day at work, and it was rather hellish.

A brutal shift

“They do not give us breaks or food,” Alex recounted.

Alex said he worked a 9-hour shift (from 3pm to midnight) and didn’t get a single break, not even to scarf down a quick dinner.

On top of that, he said the steakhouse workers aren’t allowed to eat the food at the restaurant unless they go two hours before or after their shift. Management doesn’t want customers to recognize their servers as fellow restaurant patrons.

And if you want to bring in your own food, whether from another restaurant or from home, you can’t do that either.

This is strange for a restaurant, given that many give employees are given one comped meal per shift or a heavy discount to get them to eat where they work (at this steakhouse, they get 25% off).

Alex recalled that back when he worked at Target, the retail giant was strict about ensuring employees went on break since they didn’t want to get sued.

“I’m not very excited working here after day one,” Alex said about his new steakhouse gig.

And Alex isn’t the only employee being withheld from his basic right to eat. According to Aex, one of his co-workers said that when the restaurant first opened, they had 12-hour training days, again with no food.

“This cannot be legal,” Alex said.

Additionally, Alex said employees aren’t allowed to park in the restaurant lot because they don’t want customers to see workers’ cars parked next to their “nice cars.” Instead, they’re forced to park in the mall across the street and walk over.

“And I know this steakhouse is very like high-end, and they care about their image a lot, but it’s kinda to the point where they treat us like we’re garbage,” Alex said.

“Every day feels like I’m in The Bear,” Alex said.

@cadealex HOW IZ THIS LEGAL😵‍💫 #job #jobs #jobsearch #jobtips #jobinterview #jobforme #jobless #minimumwage #serverlife #serverproblems #servertiktok ♬ original sound – Cade Alex

Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), there is no federal law that requires employers to provide a meal break. However, about 20 states, plus Guam and Puerto Rico, have laws that require adults to get a meal break, according to the United States Department of Labor.

Alex lives and works in Illinois, where state law mandates that workers who have a 7.5-hour or more shift are entitled to a meal break of at least 20 minutes.

And that food break has to happen within the first five hours of the work shift. Plus, workers who pull a 12-hour shift get another 20-minute meal break.

Violating these laws can result in a fine of $250 or $500 per offense (depending on company size), paid to the employee.

Viewers weigh in

A ton of people chimed in in the comments section of the viral video.

“Is it legal? no. is it standard in this industry? MMM YEAHHHH,” a person wrote.

“The people in the comments saying they’d sue have NEVER worked in the food industry,” another said.

“If you file a complaint with the Dept of Labor they’ll investigate to see if any laws are being broken. It’s free and confidential,” a commenter suggested.

The Daily Dot reached out to Alex for comment via Instagram direct message.

We regrettably covered this story twice. Please find our other coverage here.

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