Restaurant Has No Choice: It’ll Allow Customer Who Didn’t Agree With Waitress’ Lifestyle Back

While it might seem unlikely that the customer who stiffed a waitress and wrote on the receipt that he or she didn’t agree with the lesbian waitress’ lifestyle would think, “Hmm, now’s a good time to go back there to eat,” if the patron decides to do so, it’s not like the restaurant could, or would, stop them from doing so.

“My initial reaction was a little angry, but if they come here we can’t stop them,” the general manager told the Courier-News in Bridgewater, N.J. “This is a public place. By law we can’t stop them.”

Meanwhile the waitress at the center of the media storm says she never expected to get as much attention as she has — customers are coming in just to see her and express their support, or leaving tips as “the tip she should have received.”

Thus far the Marine Corps veteran has gotten about $1,700 in tips and donations, and says she’ll donate most of that to the nonprofit Wounded Warriors Project, which advocates for injured service members.

“It was never about the money in the first place,” she said of posting the receipt on social media.

Because waiters depend heavily on tips in New Jersey, where the hourly minimum wage for servers is $2.13 instead of $7.25, the general manager said the restaurant later discounted an entrée on the family’s check so the waitress would end up with a tip.

And while people are asking him to name names and out the family that disapproved of the waitress, he’s not going to do it. And if they came in today? He simply wouldn’t seat them with the waitress.

“We don’t want to attack the family,” he said.

That’s called taking the high road — even when you don’t approve of someone. Well, that and operating a restaurant in accordance with the law. But still.

Restaurant won’t turn away family that stiffed lesbian waitress [Courier-News]

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  1. PottaHarry says:

    I thought a private business could refuse service to anyone unless it’s based on a protected category.

    • MarthaGaill says:

      I guess they could argue they’re being refused for religious beliefs, although, I bet if the owners made it very clear that they were being refused because they were rude then it would fly.

      • CommonC3nts says:

        There is no accept religion who’s beliefs state that you cant tip a server if they are a sinner. In fact the jewish/christian/islam religions all state you need to pay your debts and treat others how you would want to be treated.
        They have no exceptions that allow them to treat sinners poorly.

  2. CommonC3nts says:

    There is no law that says they have to serve that customer who treats their employees poorly. The restaraunt owner made that up.
    It is a private place and they can do what they want as long as they dont violate interstate commerce laws.
    Also, they dont have to force any server from serving that customer. So to be funny they can seat the customer and let them sit there until they get tired of waiting for a server that will never come.

    • FooSchnicks says:

      It’s possible he was referring more to a company policy, but you’re right. There’s no law that says you HAVE to serve someone. So long as there is no discrimination involved it’s fair game.

      I, for one, have turned away numerous customers at my old job. Something me and my boss quickly began to refer to as “firing customers”.

  3. DaddyBee says:

    First and last thought is that plenty of businesses have signs that say, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”, and I have never heard of that being against the law. If I have a client I don’t want to work with, I have every right not to, and don’t need to fee like I have to. Same principle applies here.

    This is not discrimination as defined under the law – If a customer acts poorly in a private establishment (its not public place, like a library) then they can be barred from coming back.

    Good on that waitress for donating all this money too.

  4. Saber says:

    Good on her for donating that money to a very worthy cause. :)

  5. webalias says:

    It’s true that the restaurant can’t legally discriminate against a customer because of the customer’s religious beliefs. But that doesn’t give the customer license to express her beliefs at any time, or in any manner, of her choosing. If the customer got up out of her chair and start proselytizing other customers — lecturing them about their lifestyles, or handing out religious tracts, the restaurant could certainly throw her out. It would presumably do the same if the customer was annoying other patrons with her beliefs about politics, or her favorite sports team, or any other issue. Similarly, the restaurant might choose to no longer welcome a customer who used her receipt to leave a server an insulting message related to her sexual orientation — as it might if the customer insulted the waitress with respect to any other issue. Actually, the restaurant is at greater risk, in terms of a lawsuit, if it does nothing to protect its staff from this kind of abusive behavior. Courts have found that when an employee is being sexually harassed by a customer (a drunk hotel patron harassing a housekeeper, for example) the employer must still take reasonable steps to stop the harassment. Since sexual orientation is a protected characteristic in employment in New Jersey, the employer can’t just look the other way or if a customer is harassing an employee based on the employee’s sexual orientation, or any other protected characteristic.

    • CommonC3nts says:

      This not tipping for being gay had nothing to do with religious beliefs. There is no major religion that says you can treat sinners poorly or not pay your debts if you owe a sinner.

  6. BikerGeek79 says:

    There’s no law that says you must serve every patron that darkens your doorway.
    It’s true, you can’t discriminate against groups of people based on things like religion, gender, race/ethnicity/country of origin, but you most certainly CAN ban customers based on prior behavior.

    I suspect the restaurant owner is trying to appease both sides of the argument here, pandering to the religious conservatives who most definitely would play this as a “ZOMG Discrimination based on religion! SUE SUE SUE!” sort of event, while also trying to come off as progressive and inclusive towards his gay server so as not to appear bigoted and ‘phobic. He’s not doing a good job.