An Applebee's waitress has reportedly been fired after posting an image of a receipt on the social media sharing website Reddit that shows the signature of a pastor refusing to provide gratuity at her restaurant.
The pastor, who has been identified as Alois Bell of St. Louis, has since apologized for the way she handled the tip snub.
Chelsea Welch, a server at Applebee's, was reportedly fired on Wednesday, Jan. 30, one day after she posted an image of a receipt on Reddit which carried Bell's signature and a note which read: "I give God 10 percent, why do you get 18?"
This comment refers to the customary tithe offering accepted in many Christian churches.
The image, which was posted on Reddit's atheism-related discussions page, also showed that the word "Pastor" had been written on the receipt and in the tip portion of the document, which showed that the recommended amount of $6.29 had been scratched out and replaced with a "0."
"I originally posted the note as a lighthearted joke," Welch, who was a co-worker to Bell's server and who posted the photo of the receipt on Reddit, told The Consumerist.
"I thought the note was insulting, but it was also comical. I posted it to Reddit because I thought other users would find it entertaining," Welch added.
Applebee's requires groups of more than 8 to pay a fixed tip of 18 percent for their meal, and the party with which Bell dined at Applebee's on Jan. 25 consisted of 20 members.
"It was only compulsory because it was a table of 20. Parties up to eight at my work may tip whatever they'd like, but larger parties receive an automatic gratuity. It's in the computer, it's not something I do," said the Reddit user "gateflan," presumably Welch, who posted the receipt to the web.
Welch was reportedly fired after Bell, a 37-year-old St. Louis-area pastor who runs a 15-person church out of a storefront, called the local chain restaurant and complained after seeing her receipt, complete with her signature, on the internet.
"My heart is really broken," said Bell of her judgment when writing on the receipt., according to The Smoking Gun.
"I've brought embarrassment to my church and ministry," Bell continued.
Bell went on to tell the news source that her notation on the receipt was "a lapse in judgment that has been blown out of proportion," but that she had called the restaurant to complain after a friend told her the receipt had gone viral on the internet.
Bell also added that she ended up leaving a $6 tip on the table, and in spite of her cash gratuity, she was also charged for the 18 percent gratuity on her debit card.
In a statement provided to The Smoking Gun, Applebee's spokesman Dan Smith said that the employee who violated the privacy rights of the client had been terminated after Bell had called to complain.
This recent incident has created waves on the internet, with many readers arguing that Bell's tip notation was not one which represents God-like values.
One Reddit commenter quoted the Bible when he wrote: "Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me."
Another commenter, who claimed to be a Christian pastor, wrote "The way you were treated is despicable, and not a reflection of the teachings of Jesus or the grace he offers. I'm really sorry for this guys [sic] bad behavior. Sadly, mean-spiritedness is all over the place…and sometimes found in the last places it should be."
Others are chastising Applebee's for firing Welch, with one commenter on Yahoo writing: "This alleged pastor and Applebee's should both be ashamed of their actions."
Welch told The Consumerist that she isn't buying Bell's claim at embarassment, saying:
"If this person wrote the note, obviously they wanted it seen by someone."
"It's strange to me that now that the audience is wider than just the server, the person is now ashamed," Welch added.