If you've ever worked as a server or anyone else who depends on tips to supplement your wages, then you know how frustrating it can be when customers either under tip or don't tip at all. Servers make less than minimum wage with the assumption that their tips will make up the difference, but Tamlynn Yoder will tell you this isn't always the case.
Yoder, a 25-year-old resident of Lake Park, Florida, learned the hard way that tipping isn't guaranteed, but that you can't just go off about it. Yoder worked at an Outback Steakouse when an order came in from Christ Fellowship church. The church ordered 25 steaks, 25 chickens, and 25 potatoes on a Wednesday morning for pickup.
“We take the order over the phone, we put the order together, take payment and then take order to the car,” Yoder said. “It’s a lot of work just as much as serving.”
The takeout order totaled $735, and when someone from Christ Fellowship came to pick up the order, that's exactly how much money Yoder and her coworkers received. No tip was left, despite spending most of the day preparing the 75-item order. Yoder says she only ended up with $18 in tips for the entire day because Christ Fellowship placed such a large order and didn't leave a gratuity.
“Tips [are] how we make our money, we still make a low wage as servers,” Yoder said.
But even though it's not her fault that the church didn't leave a tip, Yoder was still fired from her position at Outback the next day. That's because it wasn't the lack of tip that got the server fired, it was her complaints about it.
Yoder was understandably frustrated with the Christ Fellowship for not leaving a tip, so when she got home she posted on Facebook about her experience. Yoder didn't mention where she worked, just that Christ Fellowship had placed a large order with no tip. A friend contacted Yoder and told her to delete the post and that he would contact Christ Fellowship about the incident. He then told Yoder that the church was going to call her restaurant to "make amends" for the situation.
The next day, Yoder walked in for her shift only to find out she had been fired. Her manager said Christ Fellowship received a full refund for their order. According to employee policy at Outback, employees cannot complain about customers on social media, and that it can be grounds for termination. Cathie Koch, a spokeswoman for Outback, didn't want to "go into specifics" about the incident.
Yoder said she didn't agree with Outback's policy.
“I feel that we should be allowed to say something, especially to big parties that don’t leave anything, that pay the exact amount,” said Yoder. “I still feel the same way, and I’d probably still do it the same way today. I wouldn’t change anything.”
Christ Fellowship also released a statement about the issue, saying they were unaware the volunteer they had sent to pick up the food hadn't tipped. They also pointed out that they in no way had a hand in getting Yoder fired.
"We did not call the restaurant to have her fired, we wanted to get the situation resolved,” said David Lonsberry, an executive director of business for Christ Fellowship, to The Post. "[Our intent] was to find a way to get a tip to the employee and did not desire in any way for punitive action to be taken.”
“That night, we had a volunteer go to the restaurant and pick up the order since we were having a big conference. He probably didn’t know to tip since it was a rush of the moment thing,” said Lonsberry. “We love our volunteers, and the one chosen to assist with this pick-up errand was not aware of our gratuity tipping practices. At no time, did any Christ Fellowship staff dine-in the restaurant that evening as we were hosting a major event at the time.”
As for Yoder, she is still hoping to work in the serving industry.
“One day I would like to own my own restaurant,” she said. “I love this business.”
I can definitely understand Yoder' frustrations when it comes to people not leaving tips. However, when you sign a contract, you agree to follow a certain set of rules and policies. It's an issue that should have been dealt with internally, not on social media.