Red Lobster, Olive Garden hire part-timers to avoid Obamacare

Chain restaurant corporation experimenting with ways to offset Affordable Care Act costs

Published October 11, 2012 3:47PM (EDT)


Darden Concepts, the corporation that owns restaurant chains Red Lobster and Olive Garden to offset the costs of Obamacare. According to a report from Ned Resnikoff at MSNBC, the company is experimenting with an increased reliance on part-time workers:

If the experiment is a success, the company overall could come to rely more on part-time workers. Those new employees would likely not enjoy the same health benefits that all employees currently do. "Today we offer health care to all of our employees," said Rich Jeffers, [a spokesperson for Darden]. But under the Affordable Care Act, which sets minimum standards for the health care being provided, "we can't offer that."

Resnikoff sites a recent study by the Urban Institute which found that the law's provisions would increase large businesses' overall spending by 4.3 percent. He notes that Darden, among others, remain concerned about the laws implications. "What we don't know is how are we going to address the requirements for part-time employees, and we just don't have enough information," Darden's spokesperson told MSNBC.

The director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, Sarah Jayaraman, told Resnikoff she believed Darden "was using the Affordable Care Act as a mere pretext to cut back on labor costs. 'Maybe they want to portray that that's the cause of the issue, but it really isn't." Indeed, as Resnikoff notes, a number of reports have detailed Darden's history of labor abuses.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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