On Nov. 30, 2017, a customer at Hickory Tavern — a sports bar & grill chain in Charlotte, North Carolina — wrote the following message on their receipt. “Our gay waiter made me wanna throw up my food! Ruined my experience tonight. Will not be back!” The waiter saw his customer’s receipt, took a picture of it and posted it online. In response, Hickory Tavern fired him. Why was the gay waiter fired? He was terminated for violating the restaurant’s confidentiality policy, though they have since offered him his job back, admitting that he might not have clearly understood the franchise’s policies.
Why was a gay waiter fired for pointing out homophobia?
Posting customer receipts with anti-gay messages has become something of a modern-day trend for LGBTQ waiters. In 2013, a gay waiter who read an anti-gay on a customer receipt message left at a Carrabba’s restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas posted his online. In 2017, a customer at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Louisville, Kentucky left a receipt that read, “Sorry I don’t tip faggots #UNeedJesus.”
However, it’s rarer that sharing such hateful messages gets an employee fired. The employee was fired because Hickory Tavern restaurant has a policy prohibiting employees from posting credit card receipts online, mostly to protect customer privacy.
However, the restaurant eventually issued the following statement after investigating and offering the fired employee his job back:
We strongly condemn the insults directed at one of our team members in remarks left by a patron on their credit card receipt. We value diversity and do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation or for any other reason. We also value the privacy of our patrons, and posting of credit card receipts violates our confidentiality policy.
Although the team member was initially terminated for violating this policy, after further discussions with the team member, we made the decision to offer his job back. We strive to strike the right balance between supporting our team members and protecting the private information of our guests.
Sometimes the homophobia goes the other way, however. In 2014, Bistro 18, a hookah bar in Washington gave customers a receipt that said “gay bitches” on it.