Ahead of Hurricane Irma’s landfall, Florida Governor Rick Scott urged over 5 million residents – more than half of his state’s population – to evacuate. It was a prudent move, especially after we all witnessed the devastation in Texas from Hurricane Harvey, where Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner foolishly told citizens not to evacuate, and many of them subsequently lost their lives. As Floridians began fleeing their homes in preparation for the most devastating storm many of them would see in their lifetimes, a shocking “employee memo” from a local Pizza Hut went viral.
“So take this seriously. Leave now, don’t wait,” Governor Scott warned during a morning briefing last Thursday, according to The New York Post. “[The storm’s] wider than our entire state and could cause major and life-threatening impacts on both coasts.” However, while officials were urging citizens to evacuate, one local business was threatening them with their jobs if they left.
If you were wise enough to heed the warning of Scott and others who told Floridians to evacuate, you might have lost your minimum wage gig at Pizza Hut, according to a company memo which has gone viral on social media. A Pizza Hut team member shared a photo of a printout pinned to a cork board which advised employees on the company’s hurricane “guidelines” set forth by the pizza shop’s management. Sadly, many of the guidelines put workers at risk of dying in the storm.
— Jacobin (@jacobinmag) September 11, 2017
According to Fox News, the paper, which was addressed “To all Team members,” starts with expectations “as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida,” stating “our #1 priority is the safety and security of our team. But, we also have a responsibility and commitment to our community to be there when they need us. With that said, I/we need some guidelines in place to ensure both of those expectations are met.”
Apparently, Pizza Hut is under the impression that there will be a desperate need for pizza when homes are flooding and basic survival is paramount. If you had any doubt that the “safety and security” of team members was not actually their “#1 priority,” your suspicions would be confirmed.
The sheet continued with general rules – the store will close 6-12 hours before a storm – and that if a team member plans to evacuate, they must alert a manager and let them know when they plan to return, citing that a member is only allowed a “24-hour period before storm ‘grace period'” and must be back from an evacuation within 72 hours, Fox reports.
“You cannot evacuate Friday for a Tuesday storm event!” the paper read before reiterating that after the 24-hour grace period, team members are expected to work their assigned shifts. Meanwhile, Miami’s mayor specifically warned Floridians against waiting until the last 24 hours to evacuate due to dwindling supplies and the possibility of getting stuck in major traffic, according to Eater. With more than 5 million people fleeing the same general area, it’s easy to understand how just 24 hours would not be enough time to get everyone out.
Not surprisingly, Pizza Hut received massive criticism on social media for the insensitive move.
@pizzahut You guys are closed on Christmas, but sending delivery drivers to their death for a hurricane? What's up with that?
— Avery (@Avyrey) September 11, 2017
— racismisnotcool bro (@Emeraldluxury) September 11, 2017
— Joan Allen (@Jallen_sf) September 10, 2017
Pizza Hut issued a statement after the concerning memo went viral, saying, “We are uncompromising in our commitment to the safety and well-being of our team members. All locations in the path of Irma are closed and will remain closed until local authorities deem the area safe. We absolutely do not have a policy that dictates when team members can leave or return from a disaster, and the manager who posted this letter did not follow company guidelines. We can also confirm that the local franchise operator has addressed this situation with the manager involved.”
As of Monday, 6.5 million people in the state of Florida were left without power after Hurricane Irma hit. However, they were the lucky ones. Some have lost their lives in the midst of the deadly tropical storm which had ravaged the Caribbean beforehand. Needless to say, grabbing a pizza is the least of concerns at the moment. However, you can be sure that this incident will leave a bad taste in the mouths of paying customers for quite some time.