An Applebee's waitress who posted a receipt with a note from a pastor complaining about the automatic gratuity added to the bill on the Internet was fired on Wednesday after the pastor complained to her manager.
Chelsea Welch, the waitress, wrote in an email to Yahoo News that the pastor (who has since been identified as Alois Bell) told Welch's manager at the St. Louis-area Applebee's that the ensuing firestorm had "ruined" her reputation.
"I give God 10%," Bell wrote on the receipt, scratching out the automatic tip and scribbling in an emphatic "0" where the additional tip would be. "Why do you get 18?" (There were more than eight people in Bell's party, triggering the auto-tip.)
Welch, who snapped a photo of the bill from a fellow server and uploaded to Reddit, defended her right to post the receipt. "I thought the note was insulting, but also comical," she told Consumerist.com. "And I thought other users would find it entertaining.”
Bell, a pastor at Truth in the World Deliverance Ministries Church, was not amused, and she called Welch's manager to complain.
“[It was] a lapse in my character and judgment,” Bell told the Smoking Gun, adding she did not expect her easily recognizable signature would be, as her friend informed her, “all over Yahoo. You went viral!”
“My heart is really broken,” Bell added. “I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and ministry.”
A spokesman for Applebee’s said it apologized to Bell for violating her "right to privacy" and confirmed that Welch “is no longer employed by the franchise."
Welch was surprised that Applebee's fired her, "especially because there was nothing specific in the employee handbook admonishing this behavior."
"I had no intention of starting a witch hunt or hurting anyone. I just wanted to share a picture I found interesting," she said. “I come home exhausted, sore, burnt, dirty and blistered on a good day. And after all that, I can be fired for ‘embarrassing’ someone who directly insults their server on religious grounds.”
Welch also isn't buying Bell's embarrassment. “If this person wrote the note, obviously they wanted it seen by someone," she said. “I’ve been stiffed on tips before, but this is the first time I’ve seen the Big Man used as reasoning."