Friday, September 13, 2013

The Weekly Open Thread: What Are Your Thoughts on the Racist Red Lobster Receipt [Updated]

Posted By on Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 7:22 AM

Toni Christina Jenkins Facebook post, via Gawker
  • Toni Christina Jenkins' Facebook post, via Gawker. Click to enlarge.
The Internet was abuzz this week with the story of Nashville-area Red Lobster server Toni Christina Jenkins, who posted a picture on Facebook of a receipt from a customer with a racial slur scrawled across it.

Looking through the comments posted on stories at outlets such as the Daily News, Huffington Post, Salon and the U.K.'s Daily Mail, commenters by and large fall into two schools: Those who are outraged at Devin Barnes, the man whose name is on the receipt, and those who think it was Jenkins, not Barnes, who wrote the slur to get even with him for stiffing her, or perhaps just to get attention. (Barnes does admit to writing "none" on the tip line, though he denies writing the slur.)

Jenkins was suspended with full pay by Red Lobster. (Of course, full pay for servers is likely the meager salary they receive to go along with the tips that make up most of their income.) The restaurant management has said she violated company policy by posting a receipt on Facebook.

Which of the following scenarios do you think is most likely:

1) Did Barnes write the slur?

2) Did Jenkins do it?

3) Did a third party, possibly someone at another table or one of Jenkins' co-workers, do it?

I'm not sure what I think, though I'm leaning toward scenario 3. Yes, I know, there are some dumb racists in Tennessee (and frankly, everywhere), but you'd have to be exceptionally dumb to write a slur on a piece of paper with your name on it, clear as day. (I'm not saying that's not possible, but my gut is telling me no.) Also, I don't really see Jenkins doing it out of spite, either.

Also, if you've seen the handwriting on the original post, do you think it looks like the "none" and the slur were written by the same person?

Do you think Red Lobster was right to suspend Jenkins?

What else is on your mind?

Update (5:50 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13): On Friday afternoon, Red Lobster's director of media and communications, Mike Bernstein, sent an email clarifying Red Lobster's actions regarding Toni Christina Jenkins. Read Red Lobster's email, after the jump.

Jack,

In reference to your Open Thread post today, “What Are Your Thoughts on the Racist Red Lobster Receipt,” I’d like to provide an update and some clarification.

First, our server is back at work this week per her usual schedule and she did not miss a single day of work due to this situation. We were in constant communication with her over the past several days 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 last weekend.

We are disgusted by the language used on this guest check and it has no place in our restaurant or anywhere else. However, we do have an important policy where we prohibit employees from posting a guest receipt online — especially if it shows the guest’s name and credit card information. As I’m sure you can understand, we have a responsibility to ensure our guests’ private information is protected and safe when they’re in our restaurants.

In this unfortunate situation, our employee was in violation of this policy. In order to investigate this matter in a fair and consistent manner, we followed our usual guidelines and placed her on a brief paid leave while we worked to determine what happened. And, as I mentioned, she returned to work without missing any time.


MIKE BERNSTEIN
Director, Media & Communications

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