Details have emerged about the customer who wrote, “I give God 10 percent, why do you get 18?” on a receipt and refused to leave a tip. Pastor Alois Bell delivered the holier-than-thou message at a St. Louis Applebee’s, where she was dining with a party of twenty. Bell asked to have the check broken up into increments so she could avoid paying the mandatory 18 percent tip, and then proceeded to cross out the $6.29 auto-gratuity. Chelsea Welch, a waitress (but not Bell’s sever), posted the photo online “as a lighthearted joke.” After it went viral and Bell got outed, she called Applebee’s to demand that the restaurant fire everyone involved in the scandal. Welch lost her job.
Though Welch says that she checked the employee handbook to ensure she wasn’t breaking company code, Applebee’s says her violation of the social-media policy is grounds for termination. The company is standing by its decision to fire her, and it released an official statement by way of its Facebook page. It includes:
“At the same time, as we know you will agree, the guests who visit Applebee’s — people like you — expect and deserve to be treated with professionalism and care in everything we do. That is a universal standard in the hospitality business. That includes respecting and protecting the privacy of every guest, which is why our franchisees who own and operate Applebee’s have strict policies to protect personal information — even guest’s names… .
When she was hired, the team member was provided the franchisee’s employee hand book which includes their social media policy and states: Employees must honor the privacy rights of APPLEBEE’s and its employees by seeking permission before writing about or displaying internal APPLEBEE’S happenings that might be considered to be a breach of privacy and confidentiality… . Employees who violate this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. As a result of her admission to violating a clear company policy intended to safeguard guests, the team member is no longer employed by the franchisee.”
Wouldn’t a stern warning have sufficed? In retrospect, yes, Welch should have at least crossed out Bell’s name — but if you can’t call self-righteous strangers out for their shitty behavior on the Internet, then where can you? Before you lose faith in the web (and humanity or whatever), know that there’s already a HIRE BACK Chelsea Facebook group with close to 5,000 “Likes.” We doubt she wants to work for a restaurant that doesn’t stand up for its staff and encourage tipping.