A New York City waitress says she was fired from her job at a Midtown pub after three men left without paying their bill and she refused to pay it for them.
Suzanne Parratt, 31, says she was tending to her coworkers' table when three men walked out of Pig ‘n’ Whistle Thursday night without paying their $96 bill.
"As soon as I realized, I went into full blown shock and then a state of panic knowing that I'd be held responsible for their $96 tab," she told Gothamist.
“It was repeatedly drilled into our minds that if a customer were to ever dash on a check, that the server is responsible for the tab,” she explained.
She told her manager, Eugene Wilson, about the dine-and-dash and he later said she and her coworkers that evening would have to pay the bill themselves.
"I believe he said this because it was relayed to him that I was not intending to pay the tab, and he wanted to guilt me into it or he'd make my coworkers pay for it," Parratt said. "I really hope he didn't do that to them. We all work very hard in very stressful poorly managed conditions for not a lot of money right now. $96 is more than we each made in that shift last night."
It’s not unusual for someone to walk out on a check, especially on a busy night, but Parratt said she’d never witnessed it before.
She said nothing like this had ever happened to her before and she never received complaints or warnings in the past.
"I was on time, I did all of my work, I covered for coworkers, I assisted every way I could,” she said. “I stayed past my shift endings to help accommodate guest volume if it were particularly busy. I never once called out, I never had one guest complaint. I would help every table if needed, regardless of it were mine, because we split tips there."
After she was fired, the Division of Labor Standards told Parratt that she has a right to file a complaint of retaliation against the Pig ‘N’ Whistle. They said an employer can’t deduct or require payment from employees on a bill. If they want money for a walk out, they’ll have to sue in civil court.
Because she was terminated for complaining about a violation of labor law, Parratt’s firing could be considered retaliatory.
"What I was faced with last night was illegal and unfair," she said.
She plans to file a complaint so that other restaurant workers won’t face the same retaliation. She claims the Midtown pub had a “culture of bullying” employees.
"I am very tired of hard working people being exploited through emotional manipulation by restauranteurs,” she said. “There are many other people who have the same anxieties over their work as I went through, who are being mistreated or taken advantage of, but can not say a word because they feel they have no recourse."
When Gothamist followed up with Pig ‘N’ Whistle, Wilson denied that anyone had been fired on Tuesday and said he'd have to check to find out if anyone named Suzanne ever worked there.
Parratt has a pay stub from the restaurant she will use to filed her complaint of retaliation.