Distinguished IUP Alum to Discuss Hospitality Industry

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Thomas Gathers, a graduate of IUP in 1977, is returning to his alma mater on Wednesday, April 4, 2012, to discuss his successful career and provide insight into the ups and downs of the Hospitality Industry. The event will take place in the Eberly Auditorium at 6 pm, and is open to the public--not just Hospitality Management majors.

Mr. Gathers has achieved quite a bit of success in the restaurant industry since his departure from IUP. At first, he was a restaurant manager in Ohio. He was quickly promoted to Director of Operations, and then Director of Training. His first experience with his current employer came in 1981, when he joined the Darden Group as Director of Training for Red Lobster International, and later on, Olive Garden.  He eventually left the Darden Group in 1990, and became the Senior Vice President of Human Resources at UNO Restaurant Corporation. Gathers held a few other positions as well, but returned to the Darden Group when it merged with RARE Hospitality.

Currently, Mr. Gathers is the Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Longhorn Steakhouse, which is a part of the Darden Group, and he has been instrumental in Longhorn’s recruitment of IUP graduates.

For those unfamiliar with the Darden Group, they are the parent company of many popular restaurants such as Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Longhorn Steakhouse--as well as Capital Grille and a few others. More recently, they have been in the news since New York employees have been protesting the fact that the Darden Group does not currently offer paid sick days. They (the employees) are also asking that a bill be passed that requires employees to be given those paid sick days.

According to the article written about the protest situation (http://www.thedailymeal.com/nyc-workers-protest-darden-restaurant-group-...), almost 80% of the nation’s food workers currently do not receive paid sick days. The website goes on to say that about half of the nation’s cases of stomach flu can be traced back to sick food workers. The initial question on everyone’s mind is: Why go to work if you are sick? Many food workers feel as though they have no choice if they want to make enough money to survive off of. They feel as though they can’t afford to miss a day of work.

Perhaps Mr. Gathers will be able to shed more light on the situation in New York and offer his opinion of what should be done, as well as give an explanation as to why the Darden Group does not already have in place some type of compensation for sick workers. I cannot wait to hear about the situation in New York, because several other states have already passed such laws. Pennsylvania and Seattle passed paid sick day laws last fall, and Connecticut passed a statewide law back in June.
Stay tuned next week, as HerCampus will have a full exclusive on Mr. Gathers presentation.
photos courtesy of Thecapitalgrille.com

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