Waitress sacked for not sharing £3,500 tip with co-workers

Waitress sacked for not sharing £3,500 tip with co-workers
Waitress gets $2000 tip but restaurant refuses to pay her

Splitting tips is a bone of contention to many a restaurant worker.

After all, if you’ve run yourself ragged trying to keep your customers happy, it can be hard to share your earnings with colleagues who haven’t been pulling their weight.

However, servers be warned, keeping the cash to yourself doesn’t necessarily work in your favour, as one unfortunate waitress in Arkansas found out.

Ryan Brandt had just served a table of more than 40 business execs Oven & Tap, Bentonville, when one of them called her over to present her with a five-figure tip.

A video of the moment was uploaded to Instagram by one of the dinner’s attendees, Florida estate agent Rebecca Soto, who wrote that she was “humbled to have been part of something so beautiful and generous.”

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In the clip, the evening’s host Grant Wise (the CEO of Witly, a company selling marketing software for real estate agents), handed a wad of cash to Brandt, explaining: "Everybody at this table has contributed or tipped $100 for you, and for the other waitress who unfortunately had to go home because she wasn't feeling well.

“And then we put it out to our social media channels and we actually had quite a bit more money sent in. So we are tipping you a total of $4,400 (around £3,500) for you to split with the other girl that took care of us.”

He ended his speech by addressing the rest of the restaurant, telling diners: “Tip your waitresses everyone!” as the room erupted with whoops and cheers.

Brandt was moved to tears by the gesture, embracing Wise and thanking him repeatedly in the video.

However, it later emerged that her fairytale was to suffer an unwelcome plot twist.

In an interview with local news outlet KNWA News following the event, she said: “I was told that I was going to be giving my cash over to my shift manager, and I would be taking home 20 per cent.”

Brandt pointed out that she’d been working at the restaurant for three and a half years and had never been asked to split tips with colleagues before.

Wise then learned the fate of his group’s offering and, unhappy that it was set to be divvied up rather than shared between their two servers, asked for it back, according to Distractify.

He then handed the cash straight back to Brandt outside the restaurant.

But when she went back inside, she was fired.

Brandt was visibly emotional in the cliprebeccasoto_legacy/Instagram

“It was devastating," she told KNWA, stressing that she needed the job to help pay her bills.

"I borrowed a significant amount for student loans. Most of them were turned off because of the pandemic, but they’re turning back on in January and that’s a harsh reality,” she said.

Brandt added that the restaurant’s reason for firing her was that she “violated its policy” by telling Wise about the plan to share the tip out among the whole team.

Oven & Tap responded to the outcry surrounding her treatment in a statement to the Arkansas news outlet.

It read: "After dining, this large group of guests requested that their gratuity be given to two particular servers. We fully honored their request. Out of respect for our highly valued team members, we do not discuss the details surrounding the termination of an employee."

Following the debacle, Wise set up a GoFundMe to raise money for Brandt, writing on the fundraising page: “My wife and I chose to go to Oven & Tap to do a good thing and host our $100 Dinner Club in an effort to bless the servers who waited on our party that night. Our team contacted O+T to get a reservation and confirm their policies surrounding tip sharing or tip pooling to get confirmation that they did not have such a policy.

“We moved forward with hosting our dinner and giving our tip only to learn that O+T decided to request the servers share their tips.

“We went back to O+T and got the tip money back and tipped the servers directly outside of the restaurant to make sure they got their money. We tried to contact the owner in an effort to ensure that everything was going to be ok but were unable to connect with her outside of a few text messages that eventually stopped.

“We then learn a few days later that Ryan, the main server in our video, was fired for telling us what O+T was doing. I proceeded to set up a GoFundMe campaign to help the server get through the next couple of months and to hopefully find a new job opportunity.”

Wise’s campaign raised over $8,700 (around £6,950) for Brandt in less than five days, prompting him to share an update.

“In January, we are going to host another $100 Dinner Club and I have invited Ryan to be our "Guest of Honor"! Any dollar amount raised over the $8,732 that has already been raised and is being paid out to Ryan will be given directly to the staff of the restaurant we decide to eat at.

We will be working to ensure through this that all staff in the restaurant are tipped so everyone feels blessed by our dinner.”

The fund went on to receive a total of $18,367 (£14,670).

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