TikTok Calls This Reported Subway Hiring Practice A 'Huge Red Flag'

In late December 2021, a few Subway franchises began to sue a former Subway development agent for exploitation to the point of financial ruin. While most brands would consider this a PR catastrophe, it seems to be the usual level of chaos within which Subway operates. In the same week, a video emerged on TikTok that highlighted their shambolic hiring practices.

In a video that has been viewed 2.6 million times so far, we see someone without a Subway uniform washing dishes. Over the scene, a text reads "when you come in looking for a job and they put you to work on the spot."

This isn't utterly unheard-of — one comment noted how the same happened when they went for an interview: "I worked for 3 hours and they said 'this isn't gonna work out and didn't pay me.'" "Happened to me but then they got mad if I messed up," another wrote. In short, immediately throwing people into a "test run" can serve as a short supply of free labor.

The prevailing consensus was that this was a red flag. "[Putting applicants immediately to work] shows that the company doesn't have enough workers scheduled to do the work," one explained to a person asking what was wrong with this practice. "If that's the case, then there's a reason they can't keep employees." This was backed up by people who claimed to have quit from such jobs within three months.

The 'mystery' of the labor shortage

One possible explanation for why this Subway location was so short-handed as to shove an applicant into a shift is the much-reported labor shortage.

In November 2021, for example, Fox 13 Utah and Salt Lake City reported how one Subway owner felt compelled to drag her son from school to help out at the Subway store. "Nobody is getting that extra unemployment anymore; we still have a shortage and it's just a mystery," Sharon Cockayne said. The piece continues that even without unemployment, the sheer amount of jobs out there means that workers can afford to be pickier than previously.

CNN dove in deeper in June, arguing that the lower-paid workers in customer-facing roles have disproportionately suffered from losing their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. They face hostility from a government that doesn't want to compensate them during a pandemic as well as harassment in general. Workers are fighting for better treatment, asking to be treated with the respect that the moniker "essential worker" suggests. Subway stores like the one in the TikTok video will have to figure out new ways to entice potential hires.