Applebee's Fires Waitress Who Posted Nontipping Pastor's Check Online
The St. Louis waitress who posted the receipt left by a pastor who invoked God in lieu of a tip has been fired from her job at Applebee's.
The pastor, identified by The Smoking Gun as Alois Bell, wrote on her Applebee's receipt on Jan. 25, "I Give God 10 percent Why do you Get 18."
The check, which took the Internet by storm after it was posted online to the social news site Reddit, totaled $34.93, with an automatic gratuity of 18 percent, or $6.29, included. The tip added by the restaurant was shown crossed out on the receipt.
Chelsea Welch, who said she was not the same waitress who tended to Bell's party, took a photo of the receipt and posted it online "as a lighthearted joke." It quickly went viral.
In a story posted today on the Guardian's Comment is Free section, Welch said that once she realized Bell's signature was legible, she worked with the Reddit moderators to remove all identifying information from the receipt, including that of her Applebee's colleagues. But within a few days, Applebee's fired her.
"The person who wrote the note [on the receipt] came across an article about it, called the Applebee's location and demanded that everyone be fired - me, the server who allowed me to take the picture, the manager on duty at the time, the manager not on duty at the time, everyone," she wrote.
Welch pointed out that as a waitress at Applebee's she earned $3.50 per hour and that with her tips, she made on average $9 per hour - $1.65 over Missouri's minimum wage of $7.35 per hour. Typically, tips acquired by waitresses are shared among hosts, bussers and bartenders.
Also, she said, it is clearly marked on the menu that parties of eight or more will automatically be charged an 18 percent gratuity.
On Reddit, user "gateflan" said that Bell's party had run up a $200-plus bill but had asked for separate checks.
Welch also said she was not fired for breaking the law or poorly representing the company, but "because I embarrassed this person."
Calls placed by ABC News to a number listed for Alois Bell were not answered. But Bell told The Smoking Gun, "My heart is really broken. I've brought embarrassment to my church and ministry."
This week, a petition started by Andy Bearden popped up on Change.org, asking that Welch be reinstated in her job, and that Bell be fired from the Truth in the Word Deliverance ministry.
"There is nothing in the employee handbook or rules against what she did," the petition stated.
Applebee's released a statement saying that it could not accept behavior that compromises the safety and privacy its guests.
"The team member involved did not wait on the guest or party. Regrettably, and without the restaurant's knowledge, she took it upon herself to take a guest's receipt, with the name clearly visible, and posted it online with her own commentary. That is a clear violation of our guest's privacy and against the franchisee's company policy that the team Member was provided when hired," the company's statement read.
Welch wrote in the Guardian's Comment Is Free section that her waitressing job was a way for her to pay for college. But now she's not sure she'd even want to return to her job.
"I was just trying to make a joke, but I came home unemployed," she wrote.