Gideon’s Bakehouse Employees Report Dirty & Dangerous Working Conditions at Disney Springs

Katie Francis

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Gideon’s Bakehouse Employees Report Dirty & Dangerous Working Conditions at Disney Springs

Employees from Gideon’s Bakehouse at Disney Springs have come forward with reports of dangerous and dirty working conditions, as told to WDWNT in an exclusive interview.

Gideon’s Bakehouse Employees Speak Out

The exterior of Gideon's Bakehouse at Disney Springs, a brick building with a large black and brown wooden doorway. A metal awning overhead reads "Gideon's Bakehouse."

After reports emerged about unsafe practices and unfair wages, we spoke with a collective of Gideon’s Bakehouse employees about the ongoing issues. The staff has attempted to address these concerns with management and seeks not to speak against the company but to see the problems resolved for a safer work environment and livable wages.

While Gideon’s Bakehouse is a third-party company, the staff is expected to uphold Disney’s Five Keys and go through training such as Traditions, as well as Disney Springs-specific orientation.

Wages

The staff at Gideon’s Bakehouse are contractually tipped employees, making $8.98/hour plus tips per Florida minimum wage laws. However, company policy, changed in early 2024, now prohibits the solicitation of tips.

Previously, the employees were allowed to prompt customers with phrases such as, “If you’d like to leave a tip, anything is appreciated.” Per the current staff, the policy was updated during a May 6 meeting, and they are no longer allowed to mention tips. A tip jar is not permitted to be labeled or in guest view. One employee reported income losses of over $400 per pay period after the policy change.

Other comparable Disney Springs venues, such as Wetzel’s Pretzels, pay regular wages, with some positions offering $18+/hour plus tips. The Gideon’s staff is requesting a pay increase to $16/hour or a mandatory gratuity automatically added to each purchase.

Discrimination

The employees reported the use of slurs and discriminatory language by upper management, including members of the Human Resources department. The language is used in reference to both staff and guests. The language cited included racial slurs and derogatory terms toward people with mental disabilities and those identifying as LGBT+. (Gideon’s Bakehouse has sold Pride Month products in the past, including limited edition cakes and apparel.)

The interior of Gideon's Bakehouse at Disney Springs. The walls are lined with books and other props, while glass cases of cookies and cakes sit atop black wooden displays.

Additionally, the employees reported that while the counter height is ADA-compliant, there is not enough space for an employee in a wheelchair to navigate the area behind the counter.

Staff Health & Safety

Weather

The employees at Gideon’s are often required to work half of their shift (four hours) outdoors in any condition. This includes high heat and the uniform guidelines prohibit shorts, requiring staff to stand outdoors or run deliveries around Disney Springs in all-black with full-length pants. The employees reported frequent instances of heat sickness requiring rest and hydration.

Management cited the Disney Look as the reason for prohibiting shorts. The staff reported that “after having multiple conversations with Disney Springs leadership and the Unite Here 362 representatives, we have come to understand that a change in uniform can be initiated by amendment.”

Employees stated they have also been told they cannot be provided with fans other than wearable neck units, which are not maintained and have short battery life. They are requesting that management seek approval from Disney to install fans for the outdoor positions.

Additionally, employees are expected to work outdoors in all weather conditions. There are no procedures in place for inclement weather, and multiple employees testified that they were required to work outdoors during hurricanes and thunderstorms. They are provided umbrellas, but all other rain gear must be provided by the employee at their own cost.

Emergency Procedures

The staff reported that no policies or procedures are written or discussed for emergencies, including but not limited to inclement weather, fire, active shooters, accidents, or hazards. No training was provided to any of the staff we spoke with regarding emergency situations.

Fire Egress

Gideon’s Bakehouse is adjacent to a fire alley in Disney Springs, but it is not accessible. The staff reported that during construction, it was never connected via door or stairs, unlike neighboring venues such as The Ganachery. The kitchen has a wall of ovens but only one entrance/exit, causing the staff to be concerned about safety in the event of a fire.

Sanitation

The kitchen at Gideon’s Bakehouse reportedly has a traditional three-sink sanitation station, but the employees said the baking sheets used by the company do not fit in the sinks. As such, they have been trained to spray the sheets with a sanitizer and wipe them down. They claim that the baking sheets have not been washed using the sanitation station or dishwasher.

Allergens

A reporter holding up a menu card for Gideon's Bakehouse, during the month of January.

According to the staff, the menu boards in the shop haven’t been updated in over a year, and the menus that are printed monthly have not been updated to clarify proper ingredients. One of the offerings, a Banana Bread cookie, is labeled inside the shop as containing walnuts but not on the other menus. They reported at least one incident wherein a guest had an allergic reaction earlier this year.

One member of staff told WDWNT that it was only after the incident that allergen information sheets were provided. These were provided in February, around the same time that a guest died of an allergic reaction from a dish at Raglan Road.

Employee Request for Support

A letter from the "Ghosts of Gideon's" informing the public of the business's practices at Disney Springs.

The employees at Gideon’s Bakehouse have issued a letter of demands to management. They reported that management responded by “cornering” employees to ask about potential involvement and some have been fired in suspected retaliation. The letter of demands can be read in full for those seeking further information.

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