Sonic Employees Walk Out. Here’s Why.

by Evil HR Lady on February 27, 2019

Employees from the Circleville, Ohio, Sonic quit–as a group. They were fed up with new management, and walked out together, leaving this sign behind:

What happened here and how can you prevent it from happening in your own business?

To keep reading, click here: Sonic Employees Walk Out. Here’s Why.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Hogg February 27, 2019 at 2:48 pm

Hmmm … what’s the bottom line here? Let’s see, seems like don’t be a jerk. Looked at it again, and yep, Don’t Be A Jerk. So I guess the message is, for management and really for all of us (certainly including me), DON’T BE A JERK.


Goober February 27, 2019 at 5:27 pm

Wheaton’s Law: “Don ‘t be a dick.”


The Plaid Cow February 27, 2019 at 3:21 pm

I am confused by this article. Is the “new ownership and management” referenced in the Sonic response the same one that the employees are protesting? Or is this “new, new management”?


c andrew February 27, 2019 at 7:39 pm

Yes, I had the same question. I assumed that the Sonic Response was the ‘new new’ management, but it’s not clear.


m February 27, 2019 at 6:03 pm

Good for those Sonic employees. The place must have been deplorable to get the entire team to walk out.


Anonymous February 27, 2019 at 10:07 pm

Sounds like the new franchise company used wrongful tactics to eliminate the entire crew, rather than actually dealing correctly with them. One of the problems with a right to work clause, you can work or not, the circumstances of the work experience ( wage, job duties, etc.) are all non-negotiable. Like some of the commenters stated, whoever was the new “management” had pre-decided that they were changing the pay rate and it was a take it or leave it situation, being a right to work state.


jdgalt February 28, 2019 at 6:12 pm

In the business I work in, employees are required to sign non-compete agreements before each season, thus rendering ourselves unable to work for that year if we quit or get fired, regardless of why. Unjust pay cuts like this example are a good example of why this practice needs to be banned in all lines of work.


Horse Tense March 1, 2019 at 12:55 am

“While some staffing changes were made, the vast majority of general managers and leadership were retained.”

Whew! As long as all the managers stayed on… they were the ones I was really concerned about being treated fairly! I mean, they don’t even get tips!

C’mon Sonic you could do better than that! Caring about employees means caring about all of them.


SenatorMeathooks March 1, 2019 at 4:17 pm

How bad does it have to be to have fast food workers walk out? Pretty bad.


Nicholas Moses March 5, 2019 at 6:39 pm

Like many North American teenagers of my generation I had an after-school job waiting on tables at the local establishment of a local national restaurant franchise. (Mine was one of the last generations to have that as a ubiquitous experience, I suspect.) In our workplace individual instances of angry walk-outs did happen every few months or so but collective action was unheard of. (I doubt most of us even understood what unions *were*.) I wouldn’t say conditions were “bad” and for non-owner managers our bosses were very fair to us but I can’t imagine it must have been easy for those employees who earned their primary living on those routine tasks and wages. Technically the schedule and operations were at their pure unadulterated will (which of course was necessarily dictated to a large extent by what the franchise owner wanted) and had to be accounted for very sharply. So it didn’t necessarilty take much during a rotten day to initiate such a walk-out.

On the other hand, there were other restaurants in the region which could close overnight without notifying employees. They’d drive into the parking lot the next day and the sign was already taken down. It might well have happened to ours but for pure chance. That’s kind of how national chains work in general: not especially human. Our local managers where I worked didn’t treat us like cattle but looking back they easily could have: the business model was certainly amenable to such.


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