Subway fires 80-hour-a-week worker from 1 job after Oregonian story

by Andrew Theen

Keith Fons showed up for work Nov. 9 at the Subway he manages in downtown Portland, expecting a normal Monday morning rush.

A day earlier, The Oregonian's front page featured a story about Fons and the everyday challenges that low-wage workers face. The 35-year-old father worked as many as 80 hours every week at two Subway shops to provide for his wife, who has multiple sclerosis, and their three young children.

The fam­­­ily's story of making it work on $11.50 an hour struck a chord with readers and dozens offered to help. One befriended Fons on Facebook and sent money. Another donated a box of Christmas presents for the kids.

Fons was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from strangers.

But less than a week after The Oregonian/OregonLive shared Fons' story, he was fired from his second job, at a 24-hour Subway near Northwest 21st Avenue and West Burnside Street. Losing half his hours will cost his family $1,400 to $2,000 a month.

"People say, 'Do what you love.'" Fons said Monday, wearing a puffy down coat given to him by a customer in recent days. "I loved working for Subway and customer service."

Gray area

Fons said he knew something was amiss Nov. 12, when the owner of both stores, Larry Dennis, carried a legal folder into the store. Dennis and his attorney presented Fons with a check for about $1,500 and asked him to sign a "confidential release agreement" that stipulated he wouldn't sue for back wages or divulge the terms.

They told him he was being let go from his graveyard shift at the Burnside franchise.

He signed the document, he said, because he didn't know what else to do. After wrestling with whether to talk about the termination for 11 days, Fons told his story to The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Read the full story from The Oregonian.