$10K donated to waitress who received racial slur as tip - WKRN News 2

$10K donated to Franklin waitress who received racial slur as tip

Posted: Updated: Oct 11, 2013 8:54 PM CDT

A waitress at the Red Lobster in Cool Springs received $10,000 from online supporters after she posted a picture of a receipt she received with a racial slur as the tip.

The receipt totaling $44.53 for a bill dated September 7, 2013 had the word "none" written in the tip line and the N-word in the total line.

Toni Christina Jenkins posted the picture of the receipt to Facebook September 10, prompting a California man to take action.

Matthew Hanson, founder of AddictingInfo.org, started an online fundraiser called "Tips for Toni."  The effort collected $10,749.

"It was about sending a message to racists that Americans aren't going to tolerate that," Hanson told ABC's Good Morning America. "We raised $10,000 within 72 hours.  It was really amazing."

Hanson presented the check to Jenkins on September 30. She was unaware of the fundraiser.

"I literally screamed. I was so confused," Jenkins said. "I was just so thankful. I felt so blessed and so honored that so many people came together on my behalf to give this to me."

Jenkins, who attends Belmont University, told News 2 the money is helping her buy a car, pay for school and is helping her church.

"I didn't think people would respond like that," she said.  "Racism happens every day to people. I didn't think people would think that way. I thought, ‘I'm just another victim,' but it was so much more."

She continued, "I had no idea about the check. That was crazy. That hit me like another drop in the stomach.  I was taken [aback] by it.  It was a blessing to me and my family and thank you doesn't suffice to those who gave."

Red Lobster suspended Jenkins for a short time citing a corporate policy prohibiting employees from posting guest receipts online.

However, a company spokesperson said Jenkins never missed a day of work.

"We were in constant communication with her throughout this situation and have extended her a high degree of respect and caring for what happened. No one should have to endure what our employee went through," the spokesperson said in a statement.

The statement continued, "We are disgusted by the language used on this guest check and it has no place in our restaurant or anywhere else. However, we do have an important policy where we prohibit employees from posting a guest receipt online – especially if it shows the guest's name and credit card information. As I'm sure you can understand we have a responsibility to ensure our guests' private information is protected and safe when they're in our restaurants."

Shelbyville lawyer Richard Dugger represents Devin Barnes, the 20-year-old customer accused of signing the guest check.

He told News 2 his client did not tip the waitress but denies writing the offensive word.

Dugger says a forensic handwriting expert examined the guest check and samples from Barnes and his wife and the handwriting expert ruled that the N-word was written by someone else.

He added that his client has experienced numerous threats and the family is contemplating a suit against the waitress and Red Lobster.

"As he has said before, he doesn't know who [wrote the word].  He doesn't know and it is quite evident that Red Lobster chose not to find out who did the writing," Dugger said, adding, "Whoever wrote the word on the ticket is very wrong.  It is very wrong.  Two wrongs don't make a right. Whoever wrote the word on the receipt was wrong.  Then the young lady was wrong for taking confidential information that belonged to the Red Lobster and posting it on the Internet and on top of it turning round and making money.  That is wrong."

Jenkins has denied claims regarding the authenticity of the receipt.  She told News 2 if Barnes says he didn't write it then she believes him.

She also said she would've blacked out his name had she known it was on the receipt.

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