Waitress Fired for Facebook Post Protesting Low TIP Customer

Shown below is my comment posted in response to a blog article sent to
me by email which described a news story about a waitress who was
fired due to her Facebook status post, which violated her employer’s
social media policy. In her Facebook status update, she had
complained about a customer (by name) who left her a lower than
expected TIP at the restaurant (named) where she works… Actually,i
should say the restaurant where she was FORMERLY employed. I wanted to
post this on my own blog because I think the guidance contained in
what I wrote has value…

Although I agree that the practice of leaving a TIP (To Incentivise
Performance) is discretionary and based on the judgment of the person
leaving the TIP, I also believe that employers bear a certain
responsibility. I have been asked several times "who taught you how
to TIP?" because of the system I use. My father taught me enough about
the art and science of TIPping that it probably merits a book about
the subject… Anyways, the protest that the waitress you reference is
primarily objectionable because she made it publicly visible. Had she
posted privately so only her friends and family could see it, she
might not have been fired and she certainly would have a more
defensible argument. I say this because social media is NOT just about
what you post, it is also about where and how you post!

There are so many nuances to what consumers, servers and business
owners have done to make a simple practice of leaving or giving a TIP
more complex than originally intended…

1. Does the employee providing the service receive direct wage income
for performing their job duties that is above minimum wage and subject
to review and performance based merit increases?

2. Has the employer used the expected or average TIP calculation as a
means of compensating the person hired to do the job, and reducing the
wages paid by the employer?

3. As a customer, is this a business that you are likely to use, visit
or patronize again in the future?

4. As a server, are you required or expected to share any TIP received
with other members of the staff who assist in providing service to
your customers who leave or give you a TIP?

5. As a business employing people who receive TIPs, are you witholding
taxes or other charges from the employee’s regular wages based on an
estimated TIP income determined by the amount of goods or services
sold to that employee’s customers? (known as "TIP Credits" that are
government mandated)

The variations created by the answers to these and other questions
should be considered by all involved… Including the customers who
determine and pay the TIP. In cases where an automatic "gratuity" or
service fee is added to a bill, such as room service or large
restaurant parties, the whole matter becomes moot… I despise such
automated TIP or Gratuity systems which I believe punish top
performing employees and reward mediocre service!

I experienced a situation this week while in Chicago on business that
illustrates my point… When valet parking at the Ritz-Carlton hotel
in Chicago, the fees charged by the hotel are clearly posted on a sign
when you pull up in front. $45 a day for hotel guests and $22 an hour
for others. There is a cashier for customers to pay when retrieving
your car. The people working there receive hourly pay that has not
been reduced because they work on the Valet Parking team and are
expected to receive TIPs… As a customer paying $45 a day for
parking, I am ONLY going to hand over a TIP if there is something the
server does that is exceptional. I retrieved my rental car 3 times
during my stay… Twice I left no TIP and once I gave the employee a
$5 TIP.

Alternately, I went to a dinner meeting at a Chicago restaurant where
a "Free Valet Parking" sign was posted out front and a pair of young
and eager parking attendants awaited the restaurants customers… The
sign also stated "Gratuities Welcomed and Appreciated". This usually
means the restaurant pays ZERO to provide this service and the people
doing it are working for TIPs as 100% of their compensation. I
automatically pay $5 for this type of service and add to the TIP for
exceptional performance.

My point is that if you are a frequent customer of services provided
by people whose compensation includes TIPs as a planned and expected
component, then you have an obligation to understand the multiple
factors that should impact when and how much to TIP.

And, if you bring a party of 6 or more to a restaurant that does NOT
do the abhorible practice of adding an automatic "gratuity" to the
bill, then please TIP at least 15% for adequate service, and more than
20% for superior levels of service… If the service was a train
wreck, leave 10% TIP and a note stating you wish the service had been
good enough to justify the 20% TIP you had planned on paying.

[Sent from Ralph Paglia’s iPhone]

Ralph Paglia
Director – Digital Marketing
ADP Dealer Services
cell: 505-301-6369

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