How many times have you seen it? A friend has a rough day at work and vents about it on Facebook. Well, for one employee at a Red Lobster in Tennessee, that same act got her suspended.
The Red Lobster waitress was suspended with pay after posting a photo of a receipt she received, according to The Daily Dot on Monday. Instead of a tip, she was left with a racial slur.
While the many different media through which we can share our daily lives may be creating a culture of oversharing, this is not an example. Being a server is tough. Serving wages are extremely low ($2.63 in Massachusetts), and getting stiffed on a tip is bad enough, let alone being insulted and demeaned purely on the color of your skin in the process. In a time before social media, anyone in Jenkins’s situation would have called all his or her friends. Facebook makes that more efficient.
Suspending Jenkins, albeit with pay, seems uncalled for. Her post in no way reflected poorly on Red Lobster — one hopes the customer always being “right” does not extend to racism. When the incident happened, Jenkins showed the receipt with the slur to her manager and was assured she was innocent in the situation, according to the Daily Dot. Why, then, is she at fault for sharing a difficult experience with her friends?
In 2012, a Papa John’s customer received a receipt with a racial slur on it. The customer tweeted a picture of the receipt, and the employee responsible was fired. In this case, social media allowed Papa John’s managers to become aware of a serious problem. That employee was in the wrong. But Jenkins was not at fault, and her sharing of the receipt only alerted Red Lobster management to the bigotry of some patrons and the terrible experience an employee was subject to.
There are some times when you should refrain from social media. Don’t tweet about your boss. Don’t Instagram at your desk. Don’t call in sick then talk about the party you threw last night. Don’t make fun of customers. Don’t take a selfie in front of your computer (extra points if you work at the NSA). Perhaps receipts contain some personal information that a customer could be unhappy about going viral, but no unhappier than a server who is attack with racial slurs instead of tipped.
If Red Lobster is just upholding a longstanding policy about not posting on social media about work, so be it. But let’s remember who is hurt in this situation.