Another Social Media Blow-Up: Racist Customer Receipt Posted on Facebook

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By Eric B. Meyer

It’s a story that first made news over the weekend and is quickly picking up steam, ironically, because of social media.

A customer at a Tennessee Red Lobster restaurant allegedly left a racist message on a receipt. An African American waitress subsequently posted the receipt to Facebook with the message:

This is what I got as a tip last night…so happy to live in the proud southern states..God Bless America, land of the free and home of the low class racists of Tennessee”

A Red Lobster spokesperson subsequently told the Consumerist, that it is “extremely disturbed by this situation and [we] are currently investigating to determine exactly what happened.”

When social media and racism intersect

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that the waitress has been suspended with full pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

Ten years ago, we would have never heard about this story unless, maybe, we lived in the same town as this particular Red Lobster. However, today, this viral story presents front-page issues, which are becoming more and more prevalent.

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Sadly, your company may ultimately face similar workplace issues when racism and social media intersect.

So, managers, HR professionals, and employment lawyers, put yourselves in the shoes of the decision-makers at Red Lobster and tell me in the comments below, how would you handle this situation — especially with respect to the waitress?

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (www.TheEmployerHandbook.com), which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.

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3 Comments on “Another Social Media Blow-Up: Racist Customer Receipt Posted on Facebook

  1. I would certainly have never suspended the waitress. Her comment did not portray her employer in a bad light. This is a freedom of speech issue.

  2. While the incident is unfortunate, this young lady has every right to be angry and upset. However, seeing the online images, this employee posted the customers confidential information (not that the alleged jackass didn’t deserve it), the employee needs to be held accountable for her unprofessional use of social media. I think the company is doing well so far suspending the employee with pay. I’m curious to see what the outcome of their investigation is. Now would also be a good time for the employer to review their social media policy and/or implement one if they don’t already have one.

  3. I haven’t looked into the images, but if she posted the customer’s information she needs to be written up for it. However, as an employer, the company needs to stand by their employee and ban the asshat from their restaurant. A message needs to be sent that they will not tolerate anyone putting their employees in that situation and that they take care of their own. A move like that will not only help employee relations but community relations as well.

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