Last September, a customer at a Tennessee Red Lobster found himself at the center of a firestorm. He was accused of not leaving a tip for his waitress, and adding insult to injury by supposedly including a racial slur.
The waitress, Toni Christina Jenkins, went on to post an image of the receipt on Facebook and YouTube.
“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,” Jenkins wrote underneath the picture.
The encounter has now evolved into a $1 million lawsuit – but Jenkins isn’t the one who filed it. Instead, the customer, Devin Barnes, has filed a lawsuit against Jenkins and Red Lobster in which he claims that Jenkins slandered his name and misused his personal information.
He goes on to claim that his reputation has suffered lasting damage because of Red Lobster’s “willful and malicious…omissions to act” in failing to keep Jenkins from using his name and information.
Barnes has denied writing the n-word, and alleges that he chose not to leave a tip because his was a takeout order. He has also hired a handwriting expert who, unsurprisingly, supports Barnes’ statement that the handwriting on the receipt is not his.
Barnes’ pastor and attorney, Richard Dugger, said that since the incident, Barnes has received “threats from all over the world,” and that Barnes has been the victim of “great harm and mental anguish.”
The lawsuit also notes that Jenkins intentionally dramatized the issue “to a point that she profited from it.”
Jenkins did, in fact, profit from it: although she was unaware of it at the time, an online fundraiser called “Tips for Toni” had been started in her name. Over 1,000 people worldwide contributed, and on Sept. 30, Matthew Hanson, the founder of AddictingInfo.com, presented Jenkins with a $10,719 check.
Barnes also blames Red Lobster in the lawsuit, claiming that the restaurant failed to resolve the matter with him and that it failed to take appropriate actions against its employee.
On Friday, Red Lobster issued a statement in which they noted that Jenkins had returned to work only after a full investigation into the incident had been conducted. In compliance with the chain’s standard procedure, Jenkins had been suspended with pay while the investigation was underway.
“As we also shared, we were disgusted by the language used on this guest check as it has no place in our restaurant or anywhere else,” the statement added.
Jenkins has said that she wasn’t trying to bring negative attention to the customer; instead, she was only trying to draw attention to racism.
“I was not trying to get back at him or bring any attention to him at all,” Jenkins said. “I have nothing against him. I can only imagine what he is going through. I was trying to bring attention to racism.”
Photo Sources: Daily Mail