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Florida deli sparks backlash for hiring sign: 'Min wage = mediocre person'

To earn $12 an hour, an employee needs to work "like two people," according to the sign.
The sign was posted outside of Jason's Deli in Melbourne, Florida, and has since been taken down.
The sign was posted outside of Jason's Deli in Melbourne, Florida, and has since been taken down.Google Maps

A sign posted outside a Jason's Deli location in Melbourne, Florida, sparked outrage on social media for tying worker wages to attitude and expectations that many considered unrealistic.

The sign, which was tweeted out by user @haitiandvorce (who has since gone private), listed a series of different wages and what behaviors and attitudes one would need to earn those wages. A person who would be making minimum wage — which in Florida is $8.65 — was described as being a "mediocre person." To earn $12 an hour, a worker must be "better than most," bring "zero drama" and work "like two people."

According to the sign, the only way to make $15 is if the employee "outshines and outperforms the owner," while also doing "all of the above" duties.

The controversial sign posted outside of Jason's Deli in Melbourne, Florida.
The controversial sign posted outside of Jason's Deli in Melbourne, Florida.Screenshot by TODAY / @haitiandvorce / Twitter

While the Melbourne location declined to comment and directed questions to its corporate office, the corporate office of Jason's Deli confirmed that the sign had been posted by a manager at the location.

"The manager of our Melbourne, FL location recently posted a sign intended to attract prospective applications through the potential for upward movement through our Career Path," president and COO Ragan Edgerly told TODAY Food in an emailed statement, which was also shared on Facebook. "The sign communicated that message in an inappropriate manner that does not accurately reflect the hiring practices of Jason's Deli."

Edgerly's statement went on to say that the manager "recognized the sign's inappropriateness and immediately removed it" after being contacted by the corporate office. The company said they "regret any misunderstanding that (the) sign may have caused."

"Jason's Deli values our employees," Edgerly continued. "To maintain the high level of service that they provide — and that our customers expect — we hire highly motivated people by offering competitive and fair wages. We have taken this incident as a learning opportunity and have reached out to all of our managers to ensure that they are responding appropriately to the challenges of hiring in the current environment."

Many restaurants and other service jobs have struggled to hire and maintain employees as the pandemic continues. This has caused staff shortages, complaints from customers and some restaurants to close or limit service.

On social media, many criticized the sign, saying that the manager's attitude was why people were choosing not to work in the service industry.

"This wasn't a spur-of-the-moment thing. Someone took a great deal of time and care to write out this travesty. Bet they were laughing to themselves the whole time, too. Shows how they really think of their employees," wrote one person in response to the Facebook statement.

Another user called it "one of the most tone deaf things" they'd seen since the start of the pandemic. Many said, if the employee is outshining and outperforming the owner, they should be paid like the owner.

"Why is 'works like 2 people' not 18/hr?" asked one Redditor.

However, some supported the sign, calling it realistic and noting that it provided "incentives" for people to work hard.