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Applebee’s Waitress Fired Over Receipt On Reddit

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The Applebee’s waitress who posted a customer’s check on Reddit because of a note explaining why there was no tip has been fired, and the company has posted a lengthy explanation of the story and their decision on Facebook.

The waitress, identified as Chelsea, says she thought it was funny when she found the guest check on the table with the note, “I give God 10%, why do you get 18%?” and the tip line scratched out. The guest, as it so happens, is a pastor, and the incident has caused an uproar online as both Chelsea and the pastor, identified as a Ms. Bell, receive attention, support, and negative feedback.

“I originally posted the note as a lighthearted joke,” says Chelsea. “I thought the note was insulting, but it was also comical. I posted it to Reddit because I thought other users would find it entertaining.”

Bell–and Applebee’s–didn’t find it entertaining at all, and terminated Chelsea for exposing a customer’s check since her signature is clearly visible at the bottom. But she insists it wasn’t done out of ill will, and that after the photo went viral, she did everything she could to keep Bell from being exposed.

“All throughout the comment thread on the Reddit post, I withheld any identifying information,” Chelsea said. “I had already started receiving messages containing Facebook profile links and blogs and websites, asking me to confirm the identity of the customer. I refused to confirm any of them, and all of them were incorrect. I worked with the website moderators to remove any personal information. I wanted to protect the identity of both my fellow server and the customer. I had no intention of starting a witch hunt or hurting anyone — I just wanted to share a picture I found interesting.”

She was fired nonetheless, and as of now several online forums are backing her up. HuffPost Comedy has even started a petition to get Chelsea rehired.

As for Applebee’s, this was their response to the situation, via Facebook:

We appreciate the chance to explain our franchisee’s action in this unfortunate situation.

Please let us assure you that Applebee’s and every one of our franchisees values our hard working team members and the amazing job they do serving our guests. We recognize the extraordinary effort required and the tremendous contribution they make, and appreciate your recognition and support of our colleagues.

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.

With that in mind, here is what happened in St. Louis:
- A guest questioned the tip automatically attached to her large party’s bill by writing: “I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?” on the check.
- A different server, who did not even wait on the group, photographed the receipt, posted the photo online and commented about the incident.
- The guest subsequently heard from friends who identified her from the posting, where her name is clearly visible, and the restaurant was notified. There was no further communication with the guest.
- The team member was asked about posting the receipt and admitted she was responsible.
- 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. This shall include, but not be limited to, posting of photographs, video, or audio of APPLEBEE’S employees or its customers,
suppliers, agents or competitors, without first obtaining written approval from the Vice President of Operations. The policy goes on to specify: 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.

Our franchisees are committed to acting in the best interests of guests and team members. This is a regrettable situation and we wish it had never happened. However, the disregard for an important policy left the franchisee no choice but to take the action they did.

We hope this provides you with some additional insight. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to explain the facts involved.

Applebee’s Waitress Fired Over Receipt On Reddit
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  • willie robinson

    i dont care what u say …. i will no longer eat your food or drink your drink ….. iam going to copy and post this shamefull thing for all in the office to see.

  • cj

    Why fire her When every one knows you definitely tip when you receive “service”, the pastor recieved service and gives a service, what is the pastor really preaching on Sunday morning. there shouldn’t even be a privacy issue when the the pastor sign your name in public therefore make the public. As for the server she shoulda read what’s your sign and pay more attention to her daily routine practicing good habits.she shouldr have not been fired, from a management point of view she should have been written up. after all the publicity that this situation receive I can only imagine how the service is going to be next time I go out to eat.and looking at it from both sides of the fence u never knows who serving them and u never knows who their server actually is.

  • Mel Jens

    I work in a service industry and yes it is nice to get a tip, but for the employee to EXPECT a tip or a company to automatically add a tip to the bill, especially 18%, is ridiculous! Tips should be based on performance, period. If I don’t feel you’ve done enough to earn a tip, guess what, you’re not getting one! At the same time, as a consumer it is rude and completely unnecessary to leave notes like this. Either suck it up and pay it or complain to a manager, but do NOT take it out on the employee that is just doing their job! This Pastor, the employee that posted the receipt with the signature visible and Applebee’s should all be ashamed of themselves!

    • HgAbel

      I honestly have no problem with the employee.
      Applebee’s and the pastor are the ones who look moronic.

  • VCP

    First off if anyone reads the rest of the articles out there the pastor paid the 18% plus a six dollar cash tip. Also Applebee’s has released a statement with their social media policy included and she clearly violated it. I’ve been a waitress and posting what she did is disrespectful as is the pastors comments to her. But the customer’s privacy was violated and if you put yourself in her shoes would you want your signature for your credit card posted all over the web? Not only that but it wasn’t even her tip or her table! She needs to get over herself. Kiddos to Applebee’s for firing her and next time she should mind her own business and collect her own tips.

    • HgAbel

      What a load of tommyrot!
      The PASTOR is the one who should get over herself.

  • SFCF

    Applebees and the Pastor might have had a good argument if the Pastor had not lined-out the gratuity, indicating that she paid only the remaining bill. Since it was the policy of Applebees to add the gratuity to large party’s, of which the Pastor was a part, her note was stupid to say the least. I too give my god his due, but I don’t compare what I give to god to what the waiter or waitress at the restaurant gets. I might mention here that they depend on these tips in addition to a very low base pay, to make up their salary, and most will go out of their way and work very hard to get them. I will never eat in Applebees again. I wish I knew how to send a “TIP” to Chelsea and the waitress that was actually “stiffed”.

  • Relna Schroeder

    Plain and simple… The waitress should not have been fired. The “pastor” if she really is one should be ashamed of herself, if you don’t like a businesses policy/rule about tipping, then take it up with management.
    I find it very hard to believe that anyone especially a person of God could be so callous as to demand the termination of an employee just because they were embarrased. She should be apologizing to the waitress.
    Until Applebees forces this franchisee to openly apologise to this young woman I will never eat there again, nor will any of my friends if I can persuade them to boycott you.

  • Karyn M

    I will never eat at applebees again. The pastor is the one that should be fired. Aperson with nothing to hide, hides nothing.

    • HgAbel

      Applebee’s “explanation” is such a load of codwallop!
      Apologize, reimburse her lost time, and rehire her – toads.
      B O Y C O T T A P P L E B E E ‘ S ! !

  • John

    There isn’t much thats on those receipts because everything has to be hiden to protect the patron. I just toss them in the garbage if I’m not expensing the meal. Another lame excuse from a big chain that doesn’t want to support their employees. So it sounds like it’s o.k. to treat your server with disrespect because you feel that they’re beneath you when you’re a pastor and quote the word of the bible? Giving lots of money to a building that does a lot of preaching about how we should act Christ-like and is supposed to give back to others and be kind to others? Interesting concept here, in their own words “what would Jesus do”? I just can’t see that nasty comment being written down to his server. The golden rule folks, the golden rule.

  • Ixa

    It sounds so familiar “all those preachers” are same.. I got terminated from a job because I refused to register a prospective patient tying to use a relatives’ insurance card,, and it was a so called preacher who terminated me on the spot. Indeed they should really look back at what they preach all day on Saturday and Sunday services before they stick their foot in their mouth as to Chelsea yes I see the humor side and your employer should be ashamed of themselves for terminating you. They should not have the printed on the receipts as to the 18% gratuity in the first place!!!!! Good I don’t even like Applebee’s and where I work now.. we stopped having lunch parties there..

    • HgAbel

      Right on! We have someone like that where I live, why
      he’s a pastor is beyond me.

  • http://www.patrickkphillips.com Patrick

    While I respect the points Applebee’s makes, and agree that the employee should have been a bit more restrained in what she chose to post — she really didn’t NEED to post the employee’s NAME as the “pastor” part alone should have been enough to make the point — Applebee’s own policy states the result of disobeying would be “disciplinary action up to and including termination.” She need not have been terminated to have satisfied that.

    I’m a Christian, and frankly, I think it’s good that Christians realize that sometimes, we don’t treat people in a way that mirrors our beliefs. We all need those reminders once in a while.

    • Angela

      Patrick,

      As a Christian, I agree with you in part. It is correct that the woman’s name should not have been posted. In light of having said that, her name (first) is really not legible. Someone (perhaps the woman herself or a member of her congregation) had to release that to the public. Yes, the employee SHOULD have been reprimanded….but terminated? I think not! I personally think that it is a round about way for someone (the patron, perhaps) to file a lawsuit and increase her monetary gain. And, yes, as Christians, we DO need to be reminded at times that we don’t treat people as we should. The question here for the patron and the employee is…”What would Jesus do?” Applebee’s is way off base on this one. In their quest to appease one customer, they have very likely set themselves up for a lawsuit from the patron and the employee. If the employee can prove (and I am sure she can) that Applebee’s management violates it’s own policy by posting favorable comments with names revealed, the waitress has a great chance of winning. It is called “past practice”. I hope everyone involved learned a great lesson with this..including myself….a Christian!!! Great post!

  • HgAbel

    The actions of the pastor and Applebee’s are despicable!
    Applebee’s should be heavily boycotted, and a suit for wrongful
    dismissal fired.

    As a Christian, I tithe AND tip quite happily!

    I hope the pastor’s congregation reconsiders her position.

    Oh, and – the government gets more than God!

    • HgAbel

      **Of course, I meant “a suit for wrongfu dismissal FILED”.
      Hard to type when your ire’s aroused…

      • HgAbel

        ** “WRONGFUL”!!!!
        Taking deep breaths here, folks….

  • john hale

    Any guesses as to whether this “pastor”, this purported conveyer of the message of Jesus’s sermon on the mount and His belief in charity (and Saint Paul’s) is a Republican or a Democrat ?

  • Keith

    The waitress should not have been fired for one, the “pastor” should not have written something like that on the check for two, and for three, doesnt it state in the bible that women are not to be pastors in the first place???

  • Leslie

    I am a server and people in general treat servers like we are beneath them.. We are people too. It just so happens this was a pastor who is judged by her fruits. You get what you give. Everyone should be forced to serve others one day in their life and see what we go through everyday to try to please people who can not be pleased. We make 2.13 an hour. We depend on your tips to pay our bills like you do your paycheck. Imagine you are supposed to make 1000.00 a week and you walk in to get your check and your bosssays ..Hey, you did a great job this week and hands you 500.00. That is the life of a server.Responsibility people. Think twice how you treat your server next time you eat out. That is someones mother..sister..aunt..uncle..dad…get the point.

  • http://n/a hollie

    YEA WELL FIRST OF ALL…WHAT ABOUT WHEN YOU PASTORS AND PREACHERS ALWAYS HAVE YOUR MONEY DISHES GOING AROUND FOR A SO CALLED BULIDING FUND… THAT YOU HAVEN’T BUILT FOR DECADES… WHEN IN REALITY YOU NEED TO PAY YOUR RENT… WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE WHEN YOU ASK FOR MONEY 3 0R 4 TIMES IN ONE SERVICE….. SOME OF YOU CHRISTIANS DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE… YOU GET INTO CHURCH AND EXPECT EVERYONE TO FOLLOW BEHIND YOU BECAUSE OF WHAT YOUR DOING…I TELL SOME PEOPLE I WORK ON SUNDAYS THEY TRY TO GIVE ME THE WORD LIKE I AM SUPPOSED TO QUIT MY JOB OF FOUR YEARS… FIRST OF ALL GOD KNOWS MY HEART AND HE ALSO KNOWS WHEN NOT TO BE A FOOL… WHO IS GONNA PAY MY BILLS I DO NOT LIVE AT HOME ANYMORE SO CUT THE CRAP AND STOP TRYING TO MAKE PEOPLE FEEL GULTY OK… I AM DOING SOMETHING POSITIVE AND I GO TO SCHOOL AT NIGHT WORKING ON MY NEXT DEGREE.. SO DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER.. TIMES CHANGED AND PEOPLE HAVE TO SURVIVE TO GET BYE…FAR AS APPLEBEES.. I DON’T KNOW THEY DO HAVE A PRIVACY POLICY FOR CUSTOMER;S RIGHTS AND CONFIDENTIALITY.. SO SUING YOU REALLY DO NOT HAVE MUCH OF A CASE WHEN YOU SIGN YOUR ORIENTATION PAPERS.. IT’S LIKE A CONTRACT… BUT THEY NEED TO TREAT THIER EMPLOYEES WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT POINT DARN BLANK..

  • http://n/a hollie WILLIS

    NB

  • http://n/a hollie WILLIS

    dd