Applebees Fires A Waitress Over A Receipt: Were They Wrong?

Chelsea Welch, the waitress that publicly posted a receipt to with rude scribbles concerning automatic gratuity, was fired from Applebees last Wednesday. The receipt for $34.93 (which included the 18% tip) was defaced, reading, “I give God 10%, why do you get 18%?” After thousands had already seen the picture of the receipt on Reddit, the pastor that signed the receipt called the Applebees to complain about this violation of her privacy.

Okay. I’ve been a waitress before, as well as a barista, and it’s never cool when people snub you on a tip. It’s true that servers, especially ones who work at chain restaurants, don’t make very much money at all for all the grueling work that they do. I’ve also gotten lunch with a co-worker who, when it came down to paying her portion of the split bill, stated, “The waitress didn’t do anything special,” and left the line for the tip blank. I quickly paid a few dollars extra to cover her tip and left, embarrassed. However, in the case of Chelsea Welch versus Alois Bell (the customer), both parties are in the wrong.

After contacting Applebees, Bell claims her reputation has been ruined and that she’s embarrassed. I’m not so sure those feelings would have surfaced if her nasty receipt had not appeared and multiplied like rabbits on the internet. In principle, it’s wrong to degrade someone who is serving you, period. It’s hard work being a server, and on top of crappy minimum wages (in some states, the minimum wage for servers who make tips is $2.13 an hour), no one deserves to be treated like they are beneath you. A part of me is really rooting for Chelsea for exposing the kind of bullsh*t that goes on in the restaurant industry, the kind of subtle mistreatment that goes unattended to by companies because rarely does anyone do anything that is technically wrong.

Unfortunately, Chelsea Welch did break some privacy barriers. She posted a receipt that had the customer’s signature on it, an integral part of one’s identity. I’m pretty sure the actual rule implemented by Applebees is that employees are not allowed to use photographs of the customers, but a signature is pretty familial as far as personal identity goes.

Welch states, “I had no intention of starting a witch hunt or hurting anyone. I just wanted to share a picture I found interesting,” she said. “I come home exhausted, sore, burnt, dirty, and blistered on a good day. And after all that, I can be fired for ’embarrassing’ someone who directly insults their server on religious grounds.”

What do you think? Do you believe it’s unfair that Applebees fired Chelsea?

Featured image via Shuttershock