Former Dave’s Coffee employees laid off during pandemic upset over new job posting

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Former employees of the popular Rhode Island coffee chain, Dave’s Coffee, have taken to social media to voice their frustrations after they say they were let go without notice so that the business can hire new people for less money.

Over half a dozen people who worked at the Providence location said they were laid off in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the expectation of being re-hired once the economy opened back up. But, they say they hadn’t been contacted by management and were shocked to see a job listing posted just days ago, looking for baristas.

“It really stings because all of us had worked for them for years. We built relationships with customers. We were a really great team,” said Jane Argodale, who had worked for Dave’s since 2018.

Argodale has been collecting unemployment like the other baristas. They said the coffee shop on South Main Street reopened two weeks after closing, with management running the business, and baristas were not brought back.

Argodale is moving to North Carolina for graduate school, and went online to tell management about the move, but realized they could no longer access the company portals.

“At first I tried opening work chat, which is our workplace messaging app that we use, and I realized I had been locked out of there very suddenly, and I noticed the same when I checked our scheduling app. So it kind of sent the message to me that, you know, I was already kind of in effect fired at this point, even though they hadn’t emailed me or said anything to me.”

Before the pandemic, the baristas said they were getting time and a half on Sundays and holidays. According to Argodale, management told the group that was going away.

“We got the explanation that essentially upper management wanted to ask us back, but they wanted to get rid of time and a half pay on Sundays and holidays, and then that we would all be re-hired at $11.50, which is about to be the new Rhode Island minimum wage. Some of our wages would be staying the same, some of us are already at $11.50, but other people would be taking a pay cut.”

The next thing they knew, the job openings were posted.

“Rather than, you know, contact us and have a conversation about it, they decided to essentially fire us and look for a new employee,” said Argodale.

Since voicing concern on Twitter, Argodale said they heard from some of the regulars that go to Dave’s, and they’ve expressed their disappointment.

“People want to know that businesses are doing right by their workers. That their money is going to the workers and not to management.”

And while Argodale is moving away, the others aren’t, and say they don’t have a job to go back to.

“I’m moving, but a lot of my coworkers were hoping for that job security. It kind of feels like a huge slap in the face. It’s not just an issue of pay, it’s also an issue of dignity and of respect for the workers that helped build your business.”

ABC6 reached out to the owners of Dave’s Coffee for their side of the story but we have not yet heard back.

© WLNE-TV 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island