Florida Restaurant Receives Criticism After Firing 13 Servers Through Text Message

| by Karin Sun
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A Florida restaurant has received backlash after making the decision to terminate a group of 13 servers in an impersonal way.

Managers of Lilly's on the Lake restaurant in Clermont, Florida, are being criticized after firing 13 of the restaurant's servers through text message, reports WKMG Click Orlando.

One of the fired employees, Elizabeth Peters, said she received a text message several hours after her shift on Nov. 20 saying that the restaurant would have to let her go.

"As you know we are making some changes and moving in a new direction in the restaurant and because of that we have decided to move on without you," the text began.

The message, which was addressed to "Everyone" rather than to Peters individually, went on to say that the restaurant appreciated the servers' "hard work" and that managers would be happy to provide a reference for the terminated workers.

The message did not explain the reason the servers were fired.

Peters told WKMG that the impersonal nature of the text upset her.

"I was torn up, I have rent to pay, I have two kids to take care of," said Peters. "I think it's wrong. It's unprofessional. If someone's going to fire they need to call you in and let you know what you did wrong. I don't even know what I did wrong."

Peters had reportedly been working at the restaurant since it opened over the summer.

Another server, Danielle Brown, said she received the same message shortly after leaving the restaurant on Nov. 20.

"Probably I was here two hours before [I got the message]," said Brown. "I was here, I had lunch, they saw me and never said anything to me and I got a text message saying they were letting us go."

Brad Barrett, the newly hired general manager at Lilly's on the Lake, said that the servers were fired because the restaurant was downsizing its staff. He also explained that the decision to notify most of the servers through text message was made in order to avoid unnecessary confrontation.

 "The story is we're at a point where we have excess amount of employees, we tried to do the right thing and let those employees go," said Barrett, who only started work about a week before the text messages were sent out.

"They created a scene and we had to them to leave. They wouldn't leave, they made threats of violence and so forth so after that we decided maybe the best decision was to send a text message to the rest of the staff that we were letting go to prevent any further altercation in the dining room and with the customers."

He added that one of the fired servers appeared to be drunk and caused a scene when managers informed her of their decision.

"[The employee] was intoxicated and we were talking to her about why she was being let go, we sat down and explained she started throwing things and making a scene in the restaurant," Barrett said.

Barrett said that, although restaurant managers ask employees to give two weeks notice before leaving the job, they are not always able to do the same in return.

He also explained that he had the servers' best interest in mind when he made the decision to fire via text message.

"The one employee says she has no gas so why should I ask her to spend her money driving down here from Orlando just to let her go and then have her drive back? So we tried to do the best we could. We called people, they didn't answer, so we had to send a text message out."

This is not the first time a manager has decided to send a termination notice through text message.

In 2010, a 32-year-old limousine company dispatcher successfully sued her boss for sexual harassment after he sent her a text message in 2009 telling her she was fired from her job because she refused to have sex with him, the New York Post reported.

Sources: WKMG Orlando, The New York Post / Photo credit: Video Screenshot via WKMG Orlando