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An Applebee’s franchise executive who suggested via email that high gas prices could force employees to work longer hours for less pay has been fired.
In an email chain titled “Why gas increase is good for hiring,” Wayne Pankratz told his colleagues that: “As inflation continues to climb and gas prices continue to go up, that means more hours employees will need to work to maintain their current level of living.”
Pankratz is an executive with American Franchise Capital, an investment firm that owns and manages Taco Bell and Applebee’s restaurants in nine states. The company’s annual sales are over $200 million, the New York Post reported.
Pankratz explained to his colleagues that due to the federal government no longer providing stimulus checks to the public and small business having immense difficulty offering workers competitive wages, Applebees has “more potential employees” in the “hiring pool.”
His email stated, “Other competitors (especially mom and pop companies or smaller businesses),” will have to either raise prices, cut employee hours, or pay employees less hourly to lift their profit margins. Some businesses will not be able to hold on. This is going to drive more potential employees into the hiring pool.”
He said that current labor market conditions give the company a chance to hire employees “at a lower wage.”
In his correspondence, Pankratz said, “Most of our employee base ad potential employee base live paycheck to paycheck. Any increase in gas cuts into their disposable income. As inflation continues to climb and gas prices continue to go up, that means more hours employees will need to work to maintain their current level of living.”
“We are no longer competing with the government when it comes to hiring,” he continued. “Stimulus money is no more, supplemental unemployment is no more. This benefits us as prices rise, people who [were] relying on unemployment money, simply will have less money to spend. It will force people back into the work force.”
On Saturday, the New York Post reported that the statements Pankratz made were leaked to the manager of a Missouri-based Applebee’s franchise owned and operated by American Franchise Capital.
Jake Holocomb, the manager in question, printed out copies of Pankratz’s emails for servers to find and gave everyone that came into the restaurant that same day free meals.
Applebee’s Chief Operations Officer Kevin Carrol said that the views expressed by Pankratz were his and his alone.
He said Pankratz shared “the opinion of an individual not Applebee’s.”