Merchant has issues with the methodology used. From their facebook page:
We want to let you know that worker's rights are important to us as an organization and we are constantly striving as an organization to treat all respectfully and fairly. While we support and respect all efforts to recognize responsible restaurant management, today, Merchant was misrepresented in the "Just Dining" Dining Guide, a joint project of the Workers’ Rights Center and the Interfaith Coa
lition for Worker Justice of South Central Wisconsin. We stand by our principles to provide best practices in the industry including: a minimum starting rate for ALL non-tipped employees over the Guide's benchmark of $8.75, all bartender, host, and daytime tipped employee wages above $3.62, and all Managers (we have 7) offered stipends for health insurance, unlimited paid sick days and vacation time.
Joshua Berkson & Patrick Sweeney
Also a later comment from Merchant:
Merchant Hi Chad, Josh here. I couldn't let your post stand as this is an issue that we are passionate about, and maybe some background information will give you some more context. They pre-populated a mailed survey to us with information that was wrong (check checked all boxes but one "No"), and give us a short time to correct it, which defies any standard data collection / survey practices in the research world. As a business, we don't readily give out HR information to anyone who asks us, and they didn't talk to Patrick or myself over the phone. Moreover, just looking at their stated methodology described in the booklet, it says that they received only 68 survey from employers, and 308 employee responses across 139 restaurants -- that's 2.21 employee responses per restaurant on average -- an insufficient dataset to publish conclusions or statements about individual restaurants. This is simply an instance of an activist group using faulty methods to assert their agenda, which ironically, we wholeheartedly believe in to the core.
So I wouldn't be surprised if other places were ranked low that really shouldn't be. From what I've heard (very-second hand) Merchant is a very nice place to work. I certainly wouldn't want to support a place that did treat their employees unfairly, but I'm not sure this survey is the best way to determine that.