A man filmed a video asking a Dunkin ’employee how long he hadn’t been on a break, sparking a debate over working conditions at fast food chains.
The man, Paul Schmidt or @ paul.surf on TikTok, works in a surfboard store next to the Dunkin ‘in Rockaway Beach, New York and often goes to the Dunkin’ for coffee. When he heard a customer complain about the wait time, he decided to ask one of the workers, Devon, about the working conditions.
The video garnered over 654,500 views with a comment section filled with people willing to help the worker.
“@dunkin, you have an explanation to give !!!” one user commented.
The worker revealed that he had worked seven to nine hours without a break. “Which I’m pretty sure is against labor laws, but you know,” the worker says in the video.
In New York State, employers are required to allow employees working six hours or more to take a meal break of at least 30 minutes. According to WorkforceHub, “If the employee requests a meal break, it must be granted. ”
“In fact, I would cry if someone asked me how long it’s been since I’ve eaten or taken a break,” one user commented. “Labor laws do nothing in fast food. “
The video sparked a discussion about appropriate breaks and the compassion that should be given to essential workers.
“If you are all here saying that you are working longer without a break and that is normal, please just think about it,” one user commented. “The breaks are so important. Customer service is ruining you.
When Schmidt asks how long it was since they hadn’t eaten, Devon says it had been about five to six hours. Schmidt came back another day and told the worker that he contacted the company but received a robot response.
“I emailed the company and was told the franchise owners would respond to me, but they didn’t,” Schmidt wrote in the comments. “@dunkin.”
The worker shares that he wants to do an internship in graphic design companies in the future.
“I know this is a tough area to break into, so I’m just trying to save some money now and save time to put myself in a proper career path,” the worker explains in the video.
In a follow-up video, Schmidt says he worked for Starbucks when he was younger and understood the frustration of “making piles of money at a business when you’re barely scratching and dying. ‘try to take over. Hopping on a trend he had seen on TikTok, he opened his Venmo business to collect tips to give to Dunkin ’employees.
“I was really amazed at the response to Devon and the working conditions of the other employees there at Dunkin ‘,” Schmidt said in the video. “Seems like a lot of you have shared similar stories and it’s really unfortunate… Thank you for your attention.”
The video received criticism over the possibility of endangering the worker’s job and, more broadly, urging others to actively support their local communities.
“I’m not saying (they don’t deserve) a break,” one user commented. “What I’m saying is you should all be helping your local communities as fast as you are doing with someone online.”
All donations to Schmidt Venmo’s company with the description #givedevonabreak will be donated as a tip to Dunkin ’employees.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Dunkin for comment.
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* First published: Jul 18, 2021, 12:52 p.m. CDT
Jennifer Xia is an editorial intern for The Daily Dot and a sophomore journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin. She previously did an internship in Austin Monthly and Austin Woman magazines.