Wayne Pankratz, an Applebee's franchise executive, faced severe criticism after a leaked mail revealed him celebrating the surging gas prices as means of lowering wages for the workers who are already living paycheck to paycheck. Pankratz is the executive director of operations for American Franchise Capital, which owns 50 Applebee's in the Midwest.
Initially the copy of the internal email was posted on Reddit from where it found its way or other social media platforms.
Pankratz' Memo Asks to Take Advantage of Economically Hurt Workers
The leaked memo, sent from Pankratz's email account, carries the subject line; Why Gas Increase is Good for Hiring.
While speaking of the increasing gas prices, Pankratz said that it will increase application flow and has potential to lower the average wage.
"Most of our employee base and potential employee base live paycheck to paycheck," the email read. "Any increase in gas prices cuts into their disposable income."
Pankratz allegedly went on to add that high gas prices will increase costs for competitors, who in turn won't be able to increase wages. "We all competed to hire out of the limited applicant pool and there was a wage war. They will no longer be able to afford to do this," he wrote in the memo, dated March 9. Pankratz then goes on to suggest "hiring employees in at a lower wage to decrease our labor [costs]."
According to Payscale, Applebee's workers earn an average hourly wage of $11.76 an hour. It is much below the average hourly pay of $17.22 an hour earned by people working in the leisure and hospitality sector in February, according to the most recent government data.
Social Media Calls for Firing of Wayne Pankratz
The memo sparked a huge backlash against Applebee's and Pankratz.
"So, they acknowledge that they are not paying their employees a livable wage and their solution is ... get schedules done earlier so their employees can plan their second job around them? What a joke," wrote a Twitter user.
"I think @Applebees doesn't need my money anymore. Employees aren't pawns that you can use to get cheap labor during hard times. I'll spend my money elsewhere," wrote another.
"Wayne Pankratz of @Applebees and all other executives and managers like him are jackasses. We need MORE UNIONS!" expressed a user.
"#Applebees corporate and their lawyers are working on firing Wayne Pankratz for cause to avoid a severance package. Does he resign quietly? Jon Gruden is laughing his ass off now," read a tweet.