The Truth About Working At Popeyes, According To Employees

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For people who work at Popeyes, it's not all chicken sandwich chaos.

In fact, the job actually has a few perks among the stressful parts.

Straight from Popeyes employees, here's what it's like to work for one of the biggest names

in fast food chicken.

It's pretty much a given that if you work in the fast food business, you're going to

be on your feet for several hours.

Popeyes employees can expect the occasional crowds during the lunch and dinner rushes,

and the introduction of the chicken sandwich has only amplified that.

The chicken sandwich has been nothing short of exhausting for employees, and getting a

break is almost unheard of.

Popeyes manager Wanda Lavender told Vox that she stands for 10 to 12 hours a day and that

her legs are still numb from the work and that she hasn't recovered.

Lavender's experience is hardly the exception.

According to Business Insider, some Popeyes employees were pulling 60-hour weeks to meet

the public's chicken sandwich demands.

Even before the chicken sandwich craze, work at Popeyes was no walk in the park.

A high school-age employee posted on Reddit that they would work until 1 a.m. before getting

up at the crack of dawn for school.

Obviously, comfortable shoes are a must with this job.

The low pay for fast food employees has been a hot topic of debate for years, and Popeyes

isn't an exception when it comes to the wages its employees earn.

According to Indeed, the average hourly wage for a Popeyes crew member is about $9.50 per


That may be a little bit more than the United States federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour,

but many employees still feel it's hardly equal to the work that they do.

Fran Marion, a single mother of two children and a Popeyes employee in Kansas City, Missouri,

told The Guardian that despite working six days a week and a second job, she struggles

to provide for her family.

As she described it,

"It makes me feel like a peasant.

In a way it's slavery.

It's economic slavery."

Popeyes managers do earn a little more at an average of $12.93 per hour, but even working

40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, that's an annual salary below $26,000.

According to Popeyes' website, the company does offer certain benefits such as education

assistance, a 401(k), and cash awards on employment anniversaries.

Despite the company having a score of 2.8 out of five on Indeed in the pay category,

it has an overall score of 3.5 stars out of five.

"People were advocating for people who work at Popeyes, saying, 'Okay great, now that

you've had this success with the chicken, with the sandwiches, now pay your employees



"'...and treat them better.'"

Anybody who has ever worked in fast food will probably tell you that it can be a very tiring


In addition to the long hours and low pay, employees also have to deal with their fair

share of rude customers.

The demand for Popeyes' chicken sandwich has brought with it numerous incidents of hostile

customer behavior.

Popeyes manager Wanda Lavender told Vox that when the chicken sandwich first rolled out

in August 2018, one disgruntled customer threatened to shoot the staff over the sandwich.

Another employee told Business Insider,

"I had an instance where a customer was threatening to assault me when I was taking out trash."

Similar incidents have happened at other locations.

Police in Houston, Texas responded to a call that a drive-thru customer brandished a gun

when told that there were no more sandwiches.

The sandwich was briefly taken off the menu when Popeyes couldn't keep up with demand,

but when it came back ,the rude customers returned along with it.

A man in Harlem, New York was captured on video berating employees because they weren't

making the sandwiches fast enough.

Working with the public isn't always easy, and at Popeyes, it can be downright dangerous.

"People are getting stabbed over a chicken sandwich?

I guess it really is healthier to be vegan.


With the long hours, low pay, and occasional rude customer, it should come as no surprise

that some Popeyes employees quit on the spot.

People can only be pushed so far before they reach their breaking point, and the chicken

sandwich madness has ushered in that breaking point for numerous Popeyes workers.

One crew member in Orange County, California, told Business Insider,

"Everyone wanted to quit so bad because it was that bad.

We have never seen it get this insanely busy."

Another employee at a New Jersey restaurant said that she abruptly quit right in the middle

of putting together two sandwiches for customers.

Manager Wanda Lavender told Vox that she too has had employees quit on the spot because

the job just became too stressful to handle.

While some Popeyes employees may decide to take their chances and look for another job,

quitting isn't an option for others such as Lavender, who has six children to care for.

As she told Vox,

"I'm not doing this just for kicks."

If you're in need of a job quick and live close to a Popeyes, it might be a viable place

to put in an application.

Considering the hectic pace of the job, it's probably not all that surprising that the

company doesn't require potential employees to jump through too many hoops.

Popeyes general manager Jordan Suriano says that if you can get an interview, then you'll

likely get the job.

As he put it,

"If you don't get a call back after submitting an application, call to check up on the status

of your application and let them know you are still interested."

A Popeyes employee on Indeed basically backed up Suriano's tip and said that after applying

online and having an interview, the restaurant called back and offered the job over the phone.

When it comes to getting a job in the Popeyes corporate offices at parent company Restaurant

Brands International, though, that can be a little trickier.

According to Garrison Xian, who spent a summer interning at Popeyes,

"For the corporate office, it has become a very competitive process as now applicants

have to apply to Restaurant Brands International.

It is a very long process with three rounds of interviews and a 'superday.'"

Employees in the fast food industry tend to arrive fast and leave fast.

According to CNBC, turnover in the restaurant industry is around 130 percent a year, largely

because fast food jobs aren't particularly desirable for many of the reasons already


But not all of those workers are quitting.

Chronic tardiness or simply not doing the required work will get a person fired in any

job, but Popeyes employees have been fired for a whole range of reasons.

In 2015, a Popeyes worker claimed that she was fired after refusing to pay back money

that was stolen during an armed robbery.

"After the gunman left, she was given two choices: pay up or get out."

And in August 2019, Popeyes canned employees for putting too much cayenne pepper in the

store's chicken sandwiches.

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising example of Popeyes employees getting the ax was revealed

by a former restaurant manager on Reddit.

According to the manager, several months after the location opened, a regional supervisor

told him,

"Tomorrow an RV will be parked in the parking lot when you arrive.

Send each employee out to take a polygraph before they clock in.

Tell them, 'We're not looking for food theft.

If you gave away food or ate food without paying for it just admit it so you don't get

tagged as deceptive.

We're looking for somebody who stole money.'"

The manager suspected that a real polygraph wasn't actually used, but regardless, half

the store's employees were fired because of the ruse.

Popeyes is famous for its fried chicken, and one perk of the job is that employees may

get a free helping of that chicken while on their shift.

One employee on Quora claimed that if a manager is quote, "chill enough," then they might

allow 5-minute breaks for employees to eat whatever they want.

While some employees on Glassdoor backed up this claim, others contradicted it and said

that they were only given a discount on select items while working their shift.

Even if employees are getting some free food, that complementary fried chicken can get old

pretty quick when the smell follows you home.

If you're knee-deep in fried chicken for hours at a time, that stench is going to stick to

you and it won't be long before your car starts to smell like the Popeyes kitchen.

One employee confessed on Reddit,

"Oh my god, you would not believe the amount of air fresheners I go through just to try

and keep the smell of chicken sweat and my bad life decisions away."

When the Popeyes chicken sandwich returned in November of 2019, Popeyes' foot traffic

was reportedly 300 percent above normal and even higher than when the sandwich initially


However, what's good for Popeyes as a whole hasn't necessarily trickled down to the employees

assembling the sandwiches.

Popeyes employee Wanda Lavender put it this way:

"The corporation made all this money, millions, off of these sandwiches, but where's our cut?

Where is our appreciation?

Where is our thank-you?

We made 5,000 sandwiches just in Wisconsin and sold every single one of them."

Fran Marion is another employee who had thoughts to share about the discrepancy.

"It's time for us to stand up and band together and fight for what we deserve.

It's united we stand or divided we fall."

When Business Insider asked Popeyes CEO Jose Cil about the overworked fast food employees,

he said it was a "tough week" for crew members around the country, adding,

"They've worked really hard, and actually the success that we've seen with the launch

of the chicken sandwich is really a success that's been driven by our franchise partners

as well as our team members and the restaurants."

That may be a verbal show of appreciation, but many Popeyes workers would likely prefer

a monetary one.

As one employee told Business Insider,

"The added demand increased the amount of work tenfold, while I still get paid next

to nothing."

The slam of the chicken sandwich will subside eventually, or at least that's what Popeyes

employees are undoubtedly hoping for.

After that, it'll be back to business as usual.

But that doesn't mean that Popeyes doesn't experience other busy times.

The same way that Long John Silver's gets busy around Lent, Popeyes locations in the

New Orleans area gets slammed with customers every February when Mardi Gras rolls around.

It's not unusual for Popeyes locations to serve as much as 40 tons of red beans and

rice, 1.5 million pieces of chicken, and over one million biscuits throughout the 12-day

Mardi Gras celebration.

To keep up with that demand, the restaurants must hire extra staff and extend their normal

business hours to nearly 24 hours a day in order to meet customers' needs as they head

to and from various Mardi Gras events.

Had Popeyes rolled out its chicken sandwich during Mardi Gras, it may have simply been

too much for the staff to handle.

Working at Popeyes for the long haul obviously isn't going to be the right path for every


But for those who can hang in, there are opportunities to move up through the ranks of the organization.

Employees on Indeed have voiced concerns about morale problems caused by changes in management

while also mentioning the possibility of moving up after working hard.

But they also noted that climbing the ladder gets more difficult after reaching the role

of assistant manager.

To be fair, ascending to the top of any organization is almost always going to be difficult, but

it is possible.

Just ask Popeyes vice president of operations Dwayne Fontenette, who moved up to his current

position after he landed his first job out of high school in 1984 at a local Popeyes.

It's a long way to the top if you want to call the shots at Popeyes.

"God bless you, God bless the United States of America, and God bless chicken sandwiches!"

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