Three Sonic drive-in locations in Ohio are without employees after entire staffs staged walkouts this week to protest new management.
According to reports, Circleville, Lancaster and Grove City have all experienced complete staff walkouts after the fast-food stores were purchased by new ownership.
“Circleville, Lancaster, and Grove City crews have all walked out and quit after the franchise was bought out by corporate. The regional director, two district managers and four general managers have all been let go. All of which have been working for the company in management for 7+ years,” an anonymous source told Scioto Post.
According to the Ohio news outlet, employees claimed they saw their wages reduced from at or near-minimum wage to $4.00/hour for tipped employees, although a spokesperson for Sonic Drive-In claimed "no wage rates at any level" decreased under the new ownership in a statement obtained by Fox News.
The changes reportedly pushed the employees over the edge, leading them to walk out of the store during their shifts, turn off the lights and lock the door behind them.
Circleville and Lancaster stores both were left with notes blasting the new management as the reason for the walkout.
Circleville left a handwritten noted signed by the “Ex Sonic Crew” that blamed the new owners for the negative change.
Meanwhile, Lancaster staff left a typed-up email taped to the door, accusing a manager of saying “racist things” as well as having people work off the clock and putting “people down and make them feel below you.”
It is unclear whether the stores will remain closed or if employees will return.
However, in an exclusive statement to Fox News, a representative for Sonic Drive-In said no wage rates at any level decreased under the new ownership, although Sonic carhops may receive tips in addition to their wages.
"We recognize that changes like this can be difficult for employees to understand, and most current employees were offered the opportunity to continue working at the drive-in. Under new management, guests and the community can look forward to improved service and the famous food, beverages, and treats for which SONIC is known. Employees working for the local drive-in can look forward to fun, fast-paced work on which they can build a career, if they choose.
"No wage rates at any level decreased in this transition, although SONIC carhops often receive tips in addition to their wages. Additionally, employees may now have their paycheck direct deposited and general managers are now eligible for a new bonus program. SRI has increased the total number of employees at the eight drive-ins in the Columbus market and will continue to invest in employees, technology and infrastructure at these drive-ins in order to deliver outstanding guest service," the statement read.
Since the management turnover, two stores have been permanently closed. Eight others reopened under the new ownership on Monday.
Sonic announced the company changes last week.
“Under new management, guests and the community can look forward to improved service and the famous food, beverages and treats for which SONIC is known. Employees working for the local drive-in can look forward to fun, fast-paced work on which they can build a career, if they choose. Most current employees will have the opportunity to continue to work at the drive-in under the new ownership.