'If You're Sick, You Need to Come Prove It': Olive Garden Manager Fired Over Disturbing Memo to Employees Asking for Time Off At a Kansas City-area Olive Garden, one manager told workers they also needed to bring in a sick dog to prove it was a good enough reason to call out.

By Gabrielle Bienasz

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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An Olive Garden sign.

Olive Garden is known for its unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks deal — but according to one former manager, taking time off should be extremely limited.

"From now on, if you call off, you might as well go out and look for another job," the manager wrote in a memo obtained by local news outlet KCTV.

The now-former manager worked at an Olive Garden location in Overland Park, which is close to Kansas City.

"We are no longer tolerating ANY excuse for calling off. If you're sick, you need to come prove it to us. If your dog died, you need to bring him in and prove it to us. If it's a 'family emergency' and you can't say, too bad. Go work somewhere else," the manager wrote.

The memo went on to say the manager also did not want to be at the restaurant late at night on Fridays or Saturdays but is "dedicated to being here. As should you. No more excuses or complaints."

The manager was fired, the outlet added.

"We strive to provide a caring and respectful work environment for our team members. This message is not aligned with our company's values. We can confirm we have parted ways with this manager," a spokesperson for Olive Garden told Entrepreneur via email.

The Kansas-area debacle comes as workers face an uncertain labor market. While many companies are gearing up for a recession and have implemented hiring freezes, the economy also added 260,000 jobs in October, which exceeded expectations and defied some economic anxieties.

At the same time, there have been layoffs at major companies from Twitter to Morgan Stanley to Amazon and as NBC noted, mostly in white-collar industries. Restaurants, on the other hand, faced an enormous labor shortage during the pandemic that is reportedly still ongoing.

There were over 10 million reported open jobs in October, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The now-fired manager also recounted an anecdote where she claimed she had been in a car accident and still made it to work.

"Do you know in my 11.5 years at Darden how many days I called off? Zero. I came in sick. I got in a wreck literally on my to work one time, airbags went off and my car was totaled, but you know what, I made it to work, ON TIME!"

(Darden is the parent company of Olive Garden, as well as others including LongHorn Steakhouse.)

When called, someone on the phone at the Overland Park store declined to comment.

Read the whole memo obtained by KCTV.

Our call offs are occurring at a staggering rate. From now on, if you call off, you might as well go out and look for another job. We are no longer tolerating ANY excuse for calling off. If you're sick, you need to come prove it to us. If your dog died, you need to bring him in and prove it to us. If its a "family emergency" and you can't say, too bad. Go work somewhere else. If you only want morning shifts, too bad go work at a bank. If anyone from here on out calls out more than ONCE in the next 30 days you will not have a job. Do you know in my 11.5 years at Darden how many days I called off? Zero. I came in sick. I got in a wreck literally on my to work one time, airbags went off and my car was totaled, but you know what, I made it to work, ON TIME! There are no more excuses. Us, collectively as a management team have had enough. If you don't want to work here, don't. It's as simple as that. If you're here and want to work, then work. No more complaigning [sic] about not being cut or not being able to leave early. You're in the restaurant business. Do you think I want to be here until midnight on Friday and Saturday? No. I'd much rather be at home with my husband and dog, going to the movies or seeing family. But I don't, I'm dedicated to being here. As should you. No more excuses or complaints.

I hope you choose to continue to work here and I think we (management) make it as easy as we can on ya'll. Thank you for your time and thank you to those who come in every day on time and work hard. I wish there were more like you.

Gabrielle Bienasz is a staff writer at Entrepreneur. She previously worked at Insider and Inc. Magazine. 

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