Applebee’s franchisee worker fired over leaked email

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 10: An Applebee's restaurant serves customers in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) (Scott Olson, 2017 Getty Images)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Applebee’s has confirmed that an employee of a Missouri-based franchisee has been fired after sending an email speculating that high gas prices and the end of pandemic stimulus money would force employees to work longer hours for lower pay.

“This is the opinion of an individual, not Applebee’s,” Kevin Carrol, Applebee’s chief operations officer, said in a statement, adding that the franchisee terminated the midlevel worker. The employee didn't work directly for Applebee’s.

Issues arose after someone shared the email last month with Jake Holcomb, who was the manager of an Applebee’s restaurant in Lawrence, Kansas. He quit soon after he read the email, which said: “As inflation continues to climb and gas prices continue to go up that means more hours employees will need to work to maintain their current level of living.”

Holcomb said he printed a couple dozen copies and left them where servers could find them, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

“Then, I gave everyone in the restaurant their food for free and we just left; we didn’t even close the store,” he said, adding that he also shared the email with a friend who posted a screenshot to Reddit on March 21.

The restaurant remained closed the next day and the email began circulating widely online.