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Feb 9, 2009 10:39 AM

Yuck...I'm being waited on by a sick server!

I just refused service from a server who was sneezing and her nose was running and she was taking her arm to catch the frigging gross.
Isn't there a law against serving food to the public when sick?

Anyone else have similar experiences?

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  1. There's certainly no law against it, and unfortunately the nature of the business is that 99.9% of servers do not have any sick days so they are missing an entire day's worth of wages if they call off sick. Combine this with the fact that a LOT of restaurant managers are really nasty to you if you call off sick and that can play into your getting cut early and not getting very many tables for several weeks after taking one measly sick day, and it results in servers all coming to work when they're sick. Most load up on cold medicine and do their best not to whuffle and sneeze at a table so that the table isn't that aware.

    I agree it's awful to be waited on while someone is sick, and equally as awful that they cannot get a paid sick day.

    5 Replies
    1. re: rockandroller1

      You hit the nail on the head, rockandroller1. When I waited tables, I not only had no sick or personal days, but I was reamed out if I called in. I remember having a vicious argument with my manager when I called in sick for the second time in 3 days. He said that I needed to get myself there or find a new job. I found a new job. But in this economy? I probably would have gone in sick...even though I COMPLETELY agree with Beach Chick that it's GROSS. (That's actually what I said during the argument - "I'm sure the customers would not appreciate having someone sick with the flu serving them food". He actually responded something along the lines of "I really don't care what they think").

      1. re: RosemaryHoney

        That's SOP for those managing from the office SOBs.

        I ran the YOMO (You owe me one) system for people that were sick in one restaurant. There's always one or two servers that will take ANY shift regardless of what time in a restaurant so it's not like you can't find a replacement. It just wasn't ever an issue and people felt confident about using it.

        As a father of an immune system depressed child, I would have immediately blasted the manager for putting a sick server out on the floor...

        1. re: The Ranger

          I'm going through that right now, I just took a serving job at a major chain and the assistant manager trained me with a fever and a vicious cough. A day later I was sick with 102 103 temp. I had to call off after they worked me 17 hours without a break or food. I go in the next day only to be blasted with oh u want to be responsible and protect guests from ur illness?? We need a doctors note or u can't work. I cannot believe I was told that after she got me sick. I merely pointed out that a child with cancer or limited immune system could come in and die from my basic cold. Not cool...not responsible behavior from a manager. The while staff I'd sick or her shift and I would not go in there to eat if my life depended on it. They are just passing the same germs back and forth. It is awful

      2. re: rockandroller1

        thats it in a nutshell - believe me he/she would rather be at home resting .People don't work sick because they want to. The food industry needs to make some major changes for the benefit of the workers that will result in benefits for all. The industry in underpaid and underbenefited due to the slim profit margins. We all lose. Hopefully you told the manager.....maybe they will get a clue about the pickle they place they're staff in.
        I don't know the answer is, as an owner myself all I can do is be understanding and unpenalizing of being sick - margins do not allow for paid days off.
        We are going to have to pay more for food to take care of our workers, who will in turn then take care of our food and food safety. But no one wants to/can .....and with $5.00 all you can eat pizza buffets its pretty hard to change the thought pattern. Most owners would like to take care of their employees as it is a reciprocal situation. Can't charge more to pay for the extras , so can't.

        1. re: coastie

          It depends on the restaurant. Passing on rising food costs to the customer isn't always the deal breaker for returning customers....however sick servers and lousy service is.
          In other words I'd rather pay higher prices for the food I'm used to in the restaurant I love but will quit coming when/if I realize the owner of the establishment could care less if I get sick from their sick server or could care less if the service sucks.
          Not all restaurants are managed the same and not all owners agree on what makes a 'great' restaurant.

      3. It's not just the front of the house, either. DH is a chef and is home sick today with a cold. So he isn't getting paid, but he isn't dribbling in anyone's scrambled eggs. Luckily, we can afford an unpaid sick day here and there, but not everyone in the front or back of the house can.

        1. I'm pretty sure our local Dept of Health has a position about sick servers...maybe a customer could approach it from that angle?

          I really feel for servers. What a crappy system. One of my favorite parts about being self-employed is my ability to stay home when I'm sick!

          1. Well, I am gonna think that the server did NOT want to be there, and A) could not call out becuase of management yelling and B ) not being able to afford the loss of a day's wages.

            So I hope you did the right thing and did not blame her, but spoke to management about THEIR policy of having visually ill staff working in food handling; server, chef or bus staff. I bet management calls out for a pimple!

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