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If a felon is looking for work and they have some skills behind the skillet, then steady work can always be found in one of the millions of diners across America. But why work for a mom and pop place with no benefits? Better to apply to the well-established franchises, which can offer better pay, better working conditions, and potentially a benefits package to their employees. Okay, you’re convinced. But which restaurants will hire a convicted felon? Let’s take a look at one of the nation’s largest and answer the question: “Does Olive Garden Hire Felons?”

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Does Olive Garden Hire Felons?

We all know Olive Garden, the Italian-cuisine, family-style restaurant which specializes in big servings, outstanding customer service, and a brand reputation for balancing affordability and an slightly “upscale” feel. Hey, I said slightly!

But remember, the big focus at Olive Garden is customer satisfaction. They’ve even invented their own word for it: “Hospitaliano! – our passion for 100% guest delight.” What does this mean?

You guessed it. If you work for them, expect the customer’s needs to take precedence over yours…and expect the management to hold you accountable for very high standards of behavior (or as they word it: “Our vibrant and high performance culture is built on an inclusive, welcoming and positive work environment where everyone can thrive.”). But this doesn’t mean it’s a bad place for felons to work. It just means to come in with an understanding of what they are looking for, and be willing to adapt.

Diversity and Hiring Felons

With that said, Olive Garden also has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. Does that include felons? Yes! Olive Garden does accept new hires who have a felony past. Of course, a felony conviction is always hard to overcome, and it is wise to explain your specific circumstances during the application and interview process. Be forthcoming, and sell your positive traits. Share any and all information about rehabilitative efforts you’ve made.

The fact is, if you are going to apply to Olive Garden, you must understand the traits they are seeking in their employees. It’s not the felony they might be concerned with, per se, so much as your attitude related to customer service. It’s something they stress, therefore you must sell yourself as being fully committed to delivering “Hospitaliano!”

If you can convince them of that, you have a shot! And it’s a shot worth taking!

Felony Expungement – In a number of states it is possible to have your felony conviction either expunged or sealed. Imagine having your record swiped clean! Learn more here.

Background Check Limits & Olive Garden

It is important to understand that some states have laws regarding how far back a criminal background check can go. This can greatly affect whether Olive Garden will hire you or not. Here are the laws in each state.

Twelve states do not allow any felony conviction information older than seven years to be reported.

  • California
  • Colorado*
  • Kansas*
  • Maryland*
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire*
  • New York *
  • Texas *
  • Washington*

(* exceptions based on pay/salary)

Some states will not report court cases where you were found NOT guilty: Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Alaska, California, New York and Michigan.

These states will report unlimited numbers of years back of felony convictions and also report NOT guilty verdicts: Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

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Olive Garden Has Great Benefits

They offer flexible schedules, job training, and opportunities for advancement within their 800 location franchise. According to their site, 99% of Olive Garden general manager and directors were promoted in-house, and 50% of their managers were. That’s no sure fire bet you’ll get a promotion, but it certainly shows that they are dedicated to grooming their own employees for management positions and increased pay and responsibility. That’s not something most small operations can offer. In fact, with so many locations, Olive Garden even helps set up employees with new jobs if those employees have to move to another state!

In terms of training, they start with standard hands-on training but continue on to do “ongoing targeted training and development” in order to build their own future leaders. This can be an incredible chance for a felon employee who has the right stuff to move into management.

They boast of utilizing various training styles and approaches, while making sure to keep the needs of the employee in mind. The fact is, Olive Garden has the means to put their money where their mouth is. Not only that, but Olive Garden is actually part of a much larger business called Darden, which is a “family of restaurants” that operates LongHorn Steakhouse, Yard House, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, and others.

In terms of benefits, Olive Garden offers: weekly pay, flexible schedules, ongoing training, meal discounts, $1 Unlimited Soup, Salad & Bread-sticks while working (hey, that’s a good deal!), paid vacation time, medical and dental insurance, and even a 401(k).

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A Few More Points About Olive Garden and Felons

One thing humans will never stop doing is eating! There’s other things we’ll never stop doing, but we won’t go into those here. My point is, people have to eat and we especially love eating out at restaurants.

Why go through the hassle of driving to a grocery store, piling up a list of ingredients, taking them home, and spending an hour in the kitchen just to cook dinner for the family? In many cases, it can actually be “almost” as cost effective as just hitting up your local big franchise restaurant…which is why there will always be jobs available in this business. So for felons looking for work in the food and beverage industry, Olive Garden is a great place to start!

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Felony Expungement – In a number of states it is possible to have your felony conviction either expunged or sealed. Imagine having your record swiped clean! Learn more here.