By now you may have heard of John Metz, the Denny’s franchisee and owner of the Hurricane Grill in Florida, who said he planned to add a 5 percent surcharge at the start of next year in addition to cutting back some full-time employees to part time to offset the costs of the Affordable Care Act.
His claim led to a surge of outraged protest on the Denny’s facebook page and posts about them at Huffington Post, Think Progress and elsewhere across the net.
Although cutting employees’ hours, turning them from full-time to part-time, is a growing trend among responsibility-shirking firms, it doesn’t have anything to do with the ACA in itself, and adding a surcharge to bills is something the Denny’s franchise agreement’s Brand Standard section explicitly prohibits.
Obviously impelled by the outcry which was threatening to cost Denny’s locations across the country valuable business, the corporation’s CEO has released a statement backed by their franchisee association (PDF):
A topic of significant conversation facing our nation today is affordable healthcare and how the Affordable Care Act may impact individuals and businesses alike. We do not know exactly how this law will impact the local businesses operated by our franchisees, but we will continue to support our franchisees with information and best practices to implement the law accordingly. We at Denny’s and all of our franchisees will of course comply with the new law.
…While we respect the decision of an independent business owner to speak out on this topic, these statements do not capture the respect by Denny’s, the Denny’s Franchisee Association or our franchise community at large for our hardworking employees or for our valued customers.
And what do you know, Metz has walked back his initial claim, saying that any surcharge was always “pure speculation” and “ is not to be implemented or considered at this time.”
In other words, Denny’s told him to shut up and stop costing them business or they’d pull his franchise and cost him far more than the ACA ever would.