The man accused of scribbling the N-word on a receipt that waitress Toni Christina Jenkins said a customer left for her last month at a Red Lobster in Tennessee has denied any wrongdoing, vowing to sue the franchise in the coming weeks.
Devin Barnes says he has been falsely accused.
His father telephoned him to ask, ‘What happened? Someone wrote the N-word on your receipt,’” Barnes said today, adding that his dad had gotten wind of the incident on the Internet. “I thought he was lying. But I pulled it up on her [Jenkins] Facebook page and just thought, ‘I didn’t write this, I don’t know who wrote it.”
His problems started after Jenkins, 19, posted a picture of the receipt on Facebook Sept. 10 with the words “none” on the “tip” line and the N-word on the “total” line at the Franklin, Tenn., restaurant.
“I was just stunned that it happened,” Jenkins told ABC News earlier this month. “It’s not something that you think in our generation would actually take place, so I was just blown away by it.”
Barnes, 20, acknowledges writing “none” on the tip line but says he left the “total” line blank and signed his name.
Either way, the picture soon went viral, with people donating more than $10,000 to the waitress while condemning Barnes for his alleged actions.
The picture of the receipt contained confidential information about Barnes, including his name, the last digits of his card number and his illegible signature. Barnes said he had to change his banking information and order a new debit card.
He says he has also received death threats.
“They’re asking me, ‘If you’re that cheap, why would you even go to a place like Red Lobster?” Barnes said. “But what they don’t understand is that my wife and I were in a hurry, we had to get out the door.”
Barnes decided he would file the suit after consulting with attorney Richard Dugger, who’s also his pastor. They have yet to determine on what grounds they would sue the company. To support his case, however, they sent samples of his and his wife’s handwriting to a forensic document examiner, who determined that their handwriting was not a match to the one on the receipt, they said.
Dugger believes that Barnes’ case can be used as an example.
“We have to send a message that you cannot take a person’s personal information and put it worldwide on the Web,” Dugger said. “But even deeper than that, this has to do with people being harassed and bullied on the Internet. There are currently no guidelines to this that are adequate and we need to change that.”
Red Lobster spokesman Mike Bernstein said in an email to ABC News that the company would not comment on any possible lawsuit.
Citing a company policy that prohibits employees from posting a guest receipt online, Red Lobster suspended Jenkins with pay after the story went public, but she has now resumed work.
“We are disgusted by the language used on this guest check and it has no place in our restaurant or anywhere else,” a Red Lobster representative said in a statement to ABC News earlier this month. “We were in constant communication with [our server] throughout this situation and have extended her a high degree of respect and caring for what happened. No one should have to endure what our employee went through.”