UnderCover Waitress: August 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

Newt Cares About Women

Stacy Morrison on BlogHer published an interesting quote from Newt Gringrich in What Women Need, The GOP Can Deliver. 

Gingrich cited what he believes are the three reasons American women need Mitt Romney in the White House: economy, healthcare and energy. "Look, I think women are first of all most concerned about the economy and jobs. And they’re concerned about the future, about the ability of their children to GET a job. Second, I think they’re concerned about a healthcare system that doesn’t cut them off from their doctor and doesn’t dictate whether they can get a mammograms or whether or not they can get the appropriate treatments. And third, I think they know that energy independence -- producing enough fuel both to create manufacturing jobs and to lower the prices of gasoline and heating oil -- makes their lives both safer and better."

Let's pick Newt's direct quote apart.

Economy / Healthcare / Energy

Healthcare

I thank Newt for acknowledging my need for access to healthcare above my waist. He mentions mammograms and "appropriate" treatments.

The GOP does not cut women off from doctors. They just insist that women who see the doctor are financially better off than most Americans so that they can actually afford skyrocketing health care costs. When Newt discusses making mammograms and "appropriate" treatment accessible, make no mistake that he means he won't be picketing doctor's offices that offer mammograms and "appropriate" treatment. That way, if you can afford medical care, you can get a mammogram because Newt doesn't think the government should dictate whether you can get a mammogram or any other form of treatment that the government deems "appropriate."

Below the waist, however, is another matter. If a women needs birth control or an abortion, good luck. The mostly-male led government isn't comfortable with things that happen "down there," unless they are being entertained with what is "down there." (Don't get me started on women who think they can dictate to other women what is an "appropriate" medical treatment.)

Economy

Newt is concerned about women's concern that their children be able to get a job someday. Because that is what women do -- make children "down there." Male children, who will need a job someday.

I was amused that Newt's handlers got him out of there before listeners who may actually take him seriously were able to ask questions. What about working women today? What about women who made children "down there" but have to work full-time and might like to be able to afford time with her children? Nobody got a chance to ask him if women who made children "down there" should also be forced to choose between "the dignity of work" or starvation?

Energy

You don't have to have a vagina to be concerned about energy. We all are concerned about energy, not just soccer moms who have to buy gas to shuttle the kids around.

While Newt acknowledges my concern about energy, I am not comfortable with the subtle message as to how the GOP intends to address this concern. Lowering the price of gas and heating oil doesn't address other forms of energy, such as wind. And creating manufacturing jobs (I assume he meant creating jobs here in the states) seems to indicate that he would like to join Sarah Palin in her "Drill, baby, drill" ecstasy.

I am not so foolish as to think my car can run on wind energy; however, I would have greatly appreciated the opportunity to listen to questions and answers given by Newt on exactly what he was alluding to.

Well, I guess I'll go get that mammogram while Obama is still president and I can afford it. And buy lemons. In the Renaissance period in England, women would insert lemon peels into their vaginas as a form of birth control. (I'm serious.) The peel was a sort of diaphragm and the acidity in the lemon juice helped kill sperm. Remember that when you vote. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Still Voting for Romney?

In spite of the weather, the Republican Convention seems to now be in full swing. As are the attacks on Obama's biggest achievement so far: health care reform fashioned directly after Governor Romney's health care for the state of Massachusetts! Not that Mitt wants to talk about that aspect of thing.

Today, however, I'd like to discuss another issue that the GOP does not want to talk about: all of the people who have been hurt by Romney's business tactics, the people that are currently being hurt by Romney's business tactics, and the people who will be hurt by Romney's economic policies if he and Ryan are elected come November.

Most people here in the fifty states earn an income by working. They either work for somebody else in return for pay, or start their own business. The only way any business survives is if customers with money to spend choose to purchase goods and services from the business. Period.

Romney, however, makes his money in a different way. His income is largely investment income. Lots of companies "go public;" in other words, they offer stocks at a price to people who can afford to purchase them. Ideally, the stock price goes up after you buy, and if you are a some combination of lucky and smart (mostly lucky,) you sell just before the stock price starts going down.

There are also ways to earn interest on investment income. The interest rates, to the best of my knowledge, are quite a bit better than the interest rate on your savings account. To put it mildly.

I'm sure, if you have been following politics at all lately, you have heard about Bain Capital. Mitt Romney made much of his fortune with Bain Capital. Bain, a corporation, purchases businesses (that are most likely not making a good profit.) Bain, a person in the eyes of SCOTUS, implements cost-cutting measures and possibly raises prices of the goods being manufactured by the company. When the profits are up, Bain then sells the company and turns a profit for Bain.

Sound awesome?

One of the biggest cost-cutting measures available for businesses today is shutting down American operations and out-sourcing to nations with lower wages and not all of those pesky labor laws and regulations. You know, the laws that prevent employers from forcing 12 year olds to work 14 hour days. The laws that require employers to pay for work-related injuries, instead of just firing your crippled arse. Heck, some companies in China have sleeping quarters for employees because going home takes too much time. They are so much more efficient than us!

Meanwhile, back in the United States of America, these are the voices of those who are losing their jobs thanks to Mitt's especially cut-throat value system, a value system that believes that anything that makes money for Mitt must be good:



If you wait tables for a living, you might wonder how this affects you. After all, try as he might, Mitt Romney can't outsource your job to China. And he would upset the racist "America for Americans" (you know, the white, Christian, English-speaking Americans) types if he brought Chinese laborers here to wait your tables for you, and send you home. So, you are safe, right?

No, you are not, unless you are waiting tables on the Koch Brothers. (And then, only if they tip.) If you are waiting tables at let's say 99% of the restaurants in this country, you need customers who can afford to both eat out and to tip. Without those diners, your restaurant will close and you will join the outsourced laborers in the bread lines.

If we say "No" to fundamentalist and rampant, unregulated Capitalism, then we may avoid a second French Revolution. We need to levy additional taxes on companies that outsource, not less (or no) taxes. By creating incentives for companies to stay, not go, we keep existing jobs here, and down the line create new ones.

The more money that stays here, the more money available to go around. The GM worker can afford to take his family out for dinner. He can also afford, thank goodness, to tip. The restaurant made a profit that night, and the waitress was able to get a new pair of shoes that she needs because she is on her feet all day. The shoe dealer in her town needed the sale. The shoe dealer did not default on her mortgage... etc.

If you are convinced that the only way you will ever get rich is to give tax breaks to millionaires so that, someday, you won't have to pay taxes, then I expect that you will use that last dollar in your pocket to buy a lottery ticket. Good luck.



IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, EAT 'EM! :-D
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mental Health Violations

This is hilarious.

Instead of trying, desperately trying, to come up with things to say just as witty, I will instead commit blogicide today and simply give you a link to a very funny but all-too-true commentary in the New Yorker.

It won't take long to read, but I warn you:

* if you are at work or in public, you may embarrass yourself with loud laughter.

* make certain there is a restroom nearby.

Enjoy!

Restaurant Mental Health Code Violations

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lazy Waitresses

Took it upon myself recently to comb through the Spawn of Satan comments just to clean things up a little. By the time i was finished reading the following anonymous comment, I was giggling to the point that my sides hurt.

The comment-leaver was attempting to enlighten good ole' Springs1 to everything that a waitress must deal with over the course of a shift. Of course, if we screw any one thing up, it could mean the difference between rent or groceries for some waitresses as our judgemental diners get to decide what our service was worth.

I have edited the comment to remove non-relevant material and to fix some typos. I hope the original author does not mind. (If you have the stomach for it, you can still read the thread over at RestaurantCustomer is Spawn of Satan.)

While the comment is funny, it is also, unfortunately, accurate. I thank the comment-leaver for her prose.

***

...And I do believe the point is you can be a hard worker and still NOT be able to wait tables!

If you have NEVER done what we do, day in and day out, you can NOT speak of constant battle being done, this is like war lady only NOT as serious, however the effects are long lasting, mentally, physically, and emotionally draining.

When have you ever greeted 12 to 18 people within 5 minutes of one another? Gotten drinks, waited for bar drinks, gotten waters for everyone, bread, bread plates, and suggestively sold appetizers. Keep in mind the bar tender may have been in the back getting take out, so that further put a "lazy" server dripping in sweat, in the weeds... Oh! did I mention the bread maker can not keep up, so there are only 6 pieces of bread and 12 to 18 people AT DIFFERENT tables, so now I would like to know what in your expert opinion should one lazy server do?

Please feel free to help anyway you can, or just direct us on the bread problem, and yes it takes about 15 minutes to bake. We bake all day, and when those trays of bread come out of the oven there are 100 more people who are not at your table waiting on that bread. They NEED bread because they will die without it....this is life ending, their life is over if they have to wait for their bread, and their meal is ruined; it's all your fault, you lazy server.

But it's NOT over, no no no! it's just begun. After you get their drinks to the table, appetizers, bread, and bread plates, now you get to take their order, and you better know all the answers! You are only at one table you have 3 other tables with no drinks and no bread and they are looking at you and waiving at you to come over, so hurry up and get over there, or run back and check to see if your bar drinks are ready by now. Hope you sell appetizers to your last 3 tables to buy you some time, but if not you better hope there is lettuce, tomatoes,cucumbers, onions, croutons, and that all of your dressings are full. If not, you will need to refill before you can start on making salads -- yes, honey, you have to make all your salads, soups, desserts, coleslaw, and make sure you have soup cups, salad bowls, and soup spoons. If not, go find your soup spoons first since you cant let your soup to get cold while your digging though the rack.

The list is long and from start to finish there are battles, and the people who put you at ease and treat you the way you treat them usually get it and the have done what we do every day. Having food take a long time to cook is not the lazy servers fault, nor is it a lazy servers fault when it's cooked wrong. It is not the waitress' fault when the restaurant RUNS out of anything.

Think about it, we knew you were coming,and all you ever eat is king crab legs, and 2 dozens raw oysters, take that up with CORPORATE, they make the rules.
And foster the lies.

Now, focus: what happens as soon, if you sold them apps, they are done with their apps?????

If you would like to tell us what we are doing wrong, then it's fair to give a solution which is suitable and can be implemented.

I am sure by now it's been 30 to 45 minutes and hopefully your last table has finished their salads, I hope you rang in their food, B4 -- well B4 -- you brought them their salads. If not, more problems...... hope by then the trout for table 31 is ready, the kitchen has a portion because they just 86 it, so run to the back because the computer wont let you ring it into the system, ALL US LAZY SERVERS, know what needs to be done, what should have been done, and how to do 100 things at once, because we are lazy, that's why things get done, because we're lazy.

*** 

Heh. My feet hurt just sitting here reading that. And she doesn't even mention having to bus and reset the tables for the people who are at the hostess stand glaring at the lazy servers... ;-)

For the record, some customers rock, are nice people, and understand how hard we are working underneath our professional veneer of calm to make sure they have a nice meal.

Thanks again for the description, Anonymous! :-)

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Great Tip Debate

Received this comment recently on Tip Pools at Cafe Gratitude:

"What about this?....
I'm a Small Business Owner that Ran a Small Cafe with just my Business Partner for a year and a half. We had many customers suggest that we put some sort of tip jar out, so they can tip us for our friendly services and awesome food/drinks. We're both ex-salesman and know the power of over the top service.I recently bought out my business partner and hired a couple of employees to help me out at the Cafe. We all participate in the making of food, drinks and maintaining the Cafe. There is no set role for each employee. Being that I'm the Sole Propietor now and that have a couple of employees. What is the fair/legal way for me to allocate these tips. I should mention that I personally work 60-80 hours a week and these employees work anywhere from 8-35 hours a week. Plus there are many hours throughout the day were I don't have employees assisting me. I run the place by myself. What do you think? I've read all the "Tip Pooling" Laws for Restaurants, but it just doesn't seem relevant to my scenario. I'm very generous with the tips and love to help make money for my people. I know for a fact that the majority of the tips are intended for me personally, based on my relationship with the customers and my dedication to their friendly service. I just want to be fair to my employees."

First, I thank the person for writing. Respectfully, I have concerns or disagreements with a number of opinions expressed above, and would like to go through and respond.

Whether or not an owner or manager may legally participate in tip pooling depends upon state laws. California is an example of a state in which managers may not take tips. Vermont is an example of a state in which managers and even owners may dip their hand into the pool. That doesn't mean they all choose to; it means it is not illegal. I heard a restaurant owner in Vermont who would help on the floor of her little restaurant say, "I will never take my employees' tips. Never have, never will." Kudos to her!

Well, here goes:

I'm a Small Business Owner that Ran a Small Cafe with just my Business Partner for a year and a half. We had many customers suggest that we put some sort of tip jar out, so they can tip us for our friendly services and awesome food/drinks. 

It is inappropriate for owners to put out a tip jar. The rationale is that owners have the power to set prices and set their take, or salary. There is an ice cream shop we frequent that is owned by a married couple. When they are the only ones working, there is no tip jar. When an employee is behind the counter, there is a tip jar on the counter. That is appropriate tip jar policy.

Growing up, I was taught to tip the lady who cut my hair. When this successful hairdresser bought her own salon, my mother instructed me to cease tipping. Because this lady was now the owner, she could set her prices and the tip was no longer necessary nor appropriate.

While your customers meant well, they were incorrect. You likely had other customers who knew that this behavior was unprofessional but chose to not say anything.

I recently bought out my business partner and hired a couple of employees to help me out at the Cafe. We all participate in the making of food, drinks and maintaining the Cafe. There is no set role for each employee. Being that I'm the Sole Propietor now and that have a couple of employees. 

Congratulations on your continued success.

EDIT to remove discussion of definition of sole proprietor. Please see comments.

With an extremely small business such as yours, it may seem to be working that there is no set role for any employee. In general, however, job descriptions are helpful and prevent problems. Personally, I think you should develop job descriptions now, before your business grows and before you start to have problems stemming from lack of communication and resentment among your staff.

When there are no job descriptions and everybody does everything, people may gravitate toward the tasks they enjoy best. Somebody may start to resent that they always get stuck doing X. Somebody is angry that they never get to do Y. Without job descriptions, people may start to invent their own rationales for why they should get to do Y: they are best at it. Job descriptions = less confusion, less negotiation and discussion, and more efficiency. Job descriptions = people know what to do and they do it. People allow others to perform their own jobs. Job descriptions create a more efficient, streamlined workplace in which people know what is expected of them, and know what they are responsible for. You may not have a problem with the individual personalities you are working with now, but down the road, everybody does everything is a recipe for disaster.

What is the fair/legal way for me to allocate these tips. I should mention that I personally work 60-80 hours a week and these employees work anywhere from 8-35 hours a week. Plus there are many hours throughout the day were I don't have employees assisting me. I run the place by myself. What do you think? 

"Fair" and "legal" are two different concepts. I don't know what state you are operating in, so I can not comment on legal.

The only fair way to allocate tips, in my opinion, is to give them to the employees who were working when the tips were given. If it is you and one employee on for two hours, those tips go the employee. He should pocket them when the second employee comes in. They split the tips that are given during the hours they work together.

You work 60-80 hours per week because you are the owner of a business. With power comes responsibility. You work longer and harder, but you set the prices, have equity in your business, get to make decisions that affect your business. Employees just get whatever you decide you can afford to pay them. Take it or leave it. They work less hours than you, but for much, much less in the long run. The least you can do is let them keep their tips.

I've read all the "Tip Pooling" Laws for Restaurants, but it just doesn't seem relevant to my scenario. I'm very generous with the tips and love to help make money for my people. I know for a fact that the majority of the tips are intended for me personally, based on my relationship with the customers and my dedication to their friendly service. I just want to be fair to my employees."

Tip pooling is exactly what you are doing in your establishment: it is one hundred percent relevant to your scenario.

You claim to be generous with tips. The tips are not yours to be generous with, you see? I can not be generous with my neighbor's money.

If you wish to make money for your people, teach them your sales and good service skills. Develop humility and realize that tips aren't all just left for you; give your employees the benefit of the doubt. If you wish to be fair to your employees, then please do so. Let them keep their tips. As the owner of the restaurant/cafe, stop taking tips. Tips are for employees, not owners.

Thank you for writing, and here's to your continued success.





Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More Violence at Red Lobster

Hunkering down to write after being quiet for a few days, I was going through my list of ideas when what did I find in my news alerts? Another incident at Red Lobster.

I've mentioned more than once that waitressing is much more dangerous than any reasonable person would think. Last December a Red Lobster waitress was attacked by four women claiming "bad service." Another waitress was recently assaulted by three women at the very same Red Lobster location.

I thought of our good friend, Springs1, when I read about this most recent incident. The bullies' rage was allegedly brought on by the most unreasonable waitress refilling their water glasses too often. I've had this argument with Springs1. She is highly inconsistent; in one breath she complains about waitresses wasting time, in the next breath we are supposed to take the time to ask before refilling water glasses. Springs1, I am holding my faith that you are not the sort to resort to physical violence.

May I take your order?
These three women threw the water glass at the back of the waitress' head. When the server turned around, they hit her in the face with a menu and their hands.

I commend the third parties; it seems that patrons of this fine establishment somehow made sure these three pillars of the community stuck around until the cops arrived. You can see their beautiful mugs here.  The Huffington Post also wrote a short piece about the incident. And an anonymous reader left a comment on an earlier post with this link about the incident. (Thank you!)

The good news is that the waitress was not injured as much as the waitress in the first incident last December. She even declined a trip to the hospital and stayed at work. Her less fortunate colleague had to miss a few days of work to recover after being assaulted by customers last December.

My next waitress uniform is a suit of armor.

EDIT: I read another news story of this incident that specifically stated other restaurant employees prevented the three customers from leaving. Kudos! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Customers and Hooters Girls


Ask the Waitress!

"How is a Hooter's Girl expected to deal with sexual harassment by a customer?" 

Expected to deal with sexual harassment by a customer by whom? (No, I am not correcting anybody's grammar.) What I mean is, how she is expected to act will differ by who is doing the expecting... in other words, her manager will expect her to act one way, and her mother will expect her to act another way. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will agree with her mother.

Hooter's Girl "Contracts" 

In Question and Answer: Sexual Harassment Cases, I refer to the Smoking Gun's quote from the Hooter's Girl Consent Form. Hooter's Girls must sign a form saying that they do not find the uniform offensive, that they understand that they are required to "entertain" customers, and that they do not find a workplace full of sexual innuendo offensive.

That post dealt more with managers and employers taking advantage of young, easily manipulated women.

Quick aside: If you are offended that I just said Hooter's Girls are easily manipulated, then think about it:
People are more vulnerable when undressed.
Hooter's Girls have signed a contract in which they are fooled into thinking they have given up their rights.
They have to buy into the idea that it is bad to be self-conscious, to any degree. Part of living in a civilized society is being conscious of how we affect and come across to others. If being self-conscious about our bodies is so terrible, then why are the male Hooter's customers fully clothed? If men embraced how "sad" it is to be self-conscious, they would show up for lunch in speedos, undershirts and sandals.

Anyway, today we are looking at sexual harassment by customers, not by managers.

Define "Harassment" 

I am serious. If sexual harassment in this case means physical touching, complain immediately (or, at least, now) to a manager. If you are not taken seriously, contact the EEOC, which is free, consult with a lawyer, or get out of Hooters and get a job that does not require you to use your body to make money.

I swear, sometimes I think strippers are offered better protections than Hooter's Girls. Strippers are told in no uncertain terms that they are not to allow their breasts to touch customers -- EVER. In general, looking is permitted and touching is forbidden. Even in a lap dance, his hands stay at his sides or he gets thrown out of the club. At Hooter's she has to bend over to pick up something he "accidentally" dropped? I suggest she stoop.

If the sexual harassment by a customer remains in the realm of verbal abuse, then our easily manipulated waitress at Hooters will be afraid to complain because she wrongfully believes that she signed away her rights.

Your Rights As An Employee

Remember this: NO EMPLOYER CAN ASK YOU TO GIVE UP YOUR RIGHTS IN RETURN FOR EMPLOYMENT. Therefore, you cannot sign away your rights. Does not matter what you signed; it is probably not worth the paper it is written on.

The Dog Ate My Contract
This is true in more areas that Hooter's Boobs. For example, in California a landlord may not keep a cleaning deposit for a cleaned apartment. I signed a rental agreement that my above-the-law landlord would keep my $50 cleaning deposit, period. When I moved out, I wrote him a letter demanding my $50 back -- and got it. (Along with a snarky letter.) He knew he was breaking the law; most people (if they even had a clue as to how the law protects them) did not bother fighting it. If they knew, they figured they needed the apartment so they would let him remove their right. HE CANNOT.

Same with Hooter's Boobs. The waitresses figure they signed something, so they are stuck putting up with it. If a pimp gets his prostitutes to sign a waiver, do you think the pimp will not go to jail? You cannot sign away your rights, even if you want to.

The Difficulty in Dealing

I recognize that any Hooter's Girl who complains to the boss about verbal sexual harassment from a customer will likely be reminded of the contract she signed, presumably giving up her rights to protection. If she points out that she still has the right to be free from a hostile work environment, she will find herself off of the schedule -- permanently.

If she has no other options, it may be worth it. She could apply for unemployment as she was not fired for cause, and did not quit.

In addition to filing for unemployment, she could also sue Hooters for retaliation. It is illegal for an employer to respond to a complaint from an employee with reduced work hours or any other form of "getting even."

It takes courage to stand up for yourself. Good luck, and thanks for Asking the Waitress.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Words of Wisdom


"Anonymous" posted the following comment here on Dirt on Darden  just as I was preparing a different new post for this evening. The following words are important and inspirational in light of Darden's recent treatment of its employees, especially (it seems) at Red Lobster locations.

My other posts can wait. I am copying Anonymous' words verbatim.

***

Hi again!

To answer a couple of questions out there for "displaced" employees at Red Lobster. Yes, you may file for partial unemployment, if you had so many hours in a calendar year, and your hours are drastically reduced, you may file for partial unemployment in most states.

Example: if you were working 36 hours per week and your week as an Sa has been reduced to 19 or 20 hours, you may file for the difference in pay. One such person in our restaurant did that, He filed for partial unemployment and was denied and then Red Lobster gave back his 40 hour work week.

Yes, to another question, I spoke with EEOC because I am over 40 but also was an "accomodated employee". I chose out of the option because I would just rather move on. Someone from Orlando, corporate, called me after they found out I spoke with EEOC, and that someone from corporate told me I could file for partial unemployment, they said I could be a hostess, and would accommodate with my MS.

But because nothing was put on paper or a letter, I just said I would move on.

There are a couple of people though who were very nice and sincere to me, when I had an attack at work, I was given money for a cab to go home, my old manager ( a female) who ask how I was and "Can you come back to work?"

Those were the days that I do not think would ever come back, but again I moved on. Yes, again you may file for partial unemployment, you may also check with EEOC.

Also, another employee, who left last year, Just won a lawsuit case regarding, "working of the clock" coming to work on time and not being paid, as scheduled" this is one person who filed alone, without cause or malice and won 2,600.00 in back pay.

If you reside in South Florida Peter Bober is an attorney for unpaid wages, including working off the clock, mixing job titles with other titles, and specializes in tipped employees, what they can and cannot do by law.

Just an eye opener.

***

Anonymous belongs to two protected categories, being over 40 means she may not be discriminated against on the basis of age. She also indicates that she is protected by the Americans  with Disabilities Act.

You only need to belong to one protected category to file for discrimination. Those of you who are over 40 may be been discriminated against. Based upon some of the questions in the personality test, I dare say people with diagnosable conditions such as ADHD were picked out for getting rid of. That may be actionable.

Regarding the lawsuit for working off of the clock, kudos to the plaintiff! We should see more of those suits. Making hourly employees work without pay is sleazy and there is absolutely no excuse for taking advantage of people like that. It's so illegal it stinks.

I don't know what you mean by "without cause or malice." You have to have a cause of action to file an action...? But I do think I understand what you mean by malice, in that the plaintiff did not file as some sort of revenge or for some secret reason, but simply filed for unpaid wages.

Thanks for telling us about Peter Bober. I just want to add that I am sure he is not the only one good guy out there. If you reside far away from South Florida, don't lose heart. Contact the EEOC. Shop around for a lawyer.

Anyway, thank you for writing. I bet you made the right decision to move on, regardless of what they offered you. Who wants to work for somebody who can not be trusted?  Funny how people suddenly offer you nice things when they realize you will stand up for yourself and speak to the EEOC. It is easier to abuse a doormat.

All of the comments on the Dirt on Darden post are important and I encourage anyone who has not already done so to take the time to read through them.

Best of luck to you!

EDIT: Oops! I forgot to add my disclaimer: this is not legal advice As a matter of fact, I'm not even a lawyer, say it with me: I'm just a stupid waitress! :-D

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Stealing Tables

Ask the Waitress!

"What should you do when another waitress is stealing your tables or tabs?" 

We have discussed stealing tips from tables on this blog. This, however, is a different issue. This is the equivalent of stealing the opportunity to work from a colleague.

Restaurants are different. Most restaurants divide the dining room tables into sections. One waitress for each section; for example, if there are fifteen tables, waitress one serves tables 1 through 5, waitress two serves tables 6 through 10, and waitress three serves tables 11 through 15.

I have worked in places in which the waitresses took every other table. I prefer sections because there is less to keep track of. Also, the "take every other table that walks in" system only works if the waitresses are honest and can trust each other.

Let's go back to discussing sections. I have section one with tables 1 through 5. People walk in and are sat at table 6. My colleague, waitress two, is otherwise engaged. I say hello to table 6.

In some restaurants, I would be doing my colleague a favor by greeting her guests so they don't notice her absence. She would still take the table. In other restaurants, I would be taking her table or stealing her table, depending upon the rules of that specific restaurant.

The only way to answer the general question, "What do I do when somebody else is stealing my tables?" is to suggest discussing the issue with management. If somebody else is swooping on your table before you have a chance to get there and keeping the table, you are being taken advantage of. If management does not see fit to defend your right to serve the tables in your section, I would strongly suggest at least looking for other employment.

If the hostess is seating people in your section but assigning the table to somebody else, I have the same response: discuss the issue in detail with a manager and try to find a job in which you will be treated fairly.

I know that looking for other employment isn't aways easy. I have stayed in non-optimal situations because I didn't have the luxury of being able to quit and not have a job. Sometimes looking is empowering in itself, and it never hurts to see what is available.

Some dining room floors are full of bullies, seemingly more than other occupations. While stooping to their level is tempting, I still advise against it. Discuss the issue with management, and if you are not taken seriously, see what else you can do.

Best of luck.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Age Discrimination Lawsuit in Texas

Real age discrimination lawsuits do happen. Demoted Red Lobster employees in Texas (and all of the fifty states) may wish to take note.

Nancy L. Regan was a waitress at Ryan's Family Steakhouse in Longview, Texas. According to the SE Texas Record: 


"Regan was hired by the defendant in Novenber 2004 as a server. According to the complaint, she claims that the restaurant violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act by reducing her hours to approximately 13 work hours per week.

Regan claims she was terminated on June 18, 2011, in retaliation for filing a charge of discrimination, the suit states." 

Double-whammy. Remember, the anti-discrimination and civil rights laws are very clear; an employer may not retaliate against an employee who complains about discrimination or files a discrimination claim. Even if the employer is not guilty of discrimination, he or she may not retaliate. The retaliation itself is a violation of the employee's civil rights.

The Record continues to say:

"The plaintiff is seeking damages for back pay; front pay; interest; damages for mental distress, emotional pain and suffering, embarrassment, severe disappointment, indignation, shame, despair and public humiliation; liquidated damages; punitive damages; attorney's fees; and court costs."

Regan is, of course, represented by a lawyer. This in itself may indicate that she has a good case. It is not unfair to surmise that, just maybe, she is not independently wealthy and does not have tons of money stashed away in the Cayman Islands with which to pay a lawyer hundreds of dollars per hour.

They lawyer may (and I do NOT know this) have taken the case on contingency. That means he will earn a portion of her winnings, if they win. If they lose, he many get nothing (depending upon the contingency agreement.) So, this lawyer is betting on winning because he thinks that Regan has a good case, or at least that is a reasonable assumption on my part.

I used to work for a Personal Injury lawyer. Almost all of his cases were contingency. He earned a third of the awarded monies, the treating physician earned a third, and the plaintiff kept a third. Therefore, he only took on cases with a good chance of winning. (In other words, the stereotype that uninjured people get rich filing these lawsuits is bogus. Lawyers don't like to waste their time on cases that will lose, and if you are not injured, you will lose.)

Anyway, there are free to inexpensive ways to inquire if you have a case. Some lawyers will offer a little of their time for free, such as a "free consult." Some don't because they can't; those in individual practice often can not afford to give away a lot of free time, but should be willing to discuss your situation to see if meeting with you is a good idea.

State lawyer referral services sometimes have rules such as "$25 for the first half-hour." If you go through the lawyer referral service, just have the $25 ready.

Your state's Attorney General and the EEOC are good places to inquire if it sounds like you have a case, and I believe there is no cost for this.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Wear Red for Bigger Tips

A new French study is hot in the news at the moment. It seems that men tip waitresses more when the waitress wears red. Female diners either tip the same, or possibly a little less.

The conclusions in the study state that waitresses stand to make as much as twenty six percent more tip money when they wear a red shirt or red lipstick. If you work in a restaurant that has a specific uniform or does not allow make-up, perhaps you could try a red bow in your hair.

FirstPost reports on the French study from London, England. Tipping culture is different in Europe than in the states, so I don't know if the numbers will translate here. For example, the article states


"In 450 transactions, waitresses wearing pink or brown lipstick, or none at all, got tips on average about 30 percent of the time.


But when they put on red lipstick, male customers tipped half the time – and left more money."


If we were tipped only thirty percent of the time, we would be broke. The expectation that diners will tip fifteen to twenty percent in the states does not exist in Europe.

However, if you can add some red to your waitressing outfit, I greatly doubt it would hurt. And it might help. It seems that men see women wearing red as more physically and sexually attractive. This makes them like us more, and causes them to want to leave a generous tip.

Always read your table, of course. That which causes men to be attracted to the waitress tends to make women diners uncomfortable. Utilizing your natural empathy and reading your tables are excellent ways of increasing your tip average, as is discussed in both my ebook and Gratuity Ingenuity.

And try wearing a little red.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tilted Kilt Gets it Wrong Again and Offends Real Celts and the Catholic Church

Tilted Kilt screws up again, and I am guilty of schadenfreude. Heh.

Tilted Kilt is headquartered in Arizona. They like to claim that they are "founded in Las Vegas, but rooted "deep in the rousing tradition of Scottish, Irish and English Pubs." They are getting a rude shock about just how off the mark they are.

Waitresses at the franchise are called "Kilt Girls," similar to "Hooters Girls" but actually wearing less clothing. Calling them "girls" is sinister; men patronize the business to play peek-a-boo at the bodies of grown women. Calling them "girls" either robs them of their maturity and station in life, or attracts pedophiles. I expect it is the former.

Modern Scottish Highland Dancer
Anybody familiar with the cultures in Scotland and most of Ireland (Southern Ireland) knows that these areas are populated by good, G-d fearing and lust fearing devout Catholics. Catholic Ireland had a lovely tradition of sending girls who "distracted" boys to the laundries. (If you have seen "The Magdelene Sisters" then you know of what I speak. Survivors say the only thing that was not accurate about the movie was the amount of talking. The laundry women were required to remain silent.)

People who besmirch Muslim women wearing burkas and hijabs seem to not notice the habits that Catholic sisters wear. While Vatican II saw some orders of nuns trading in the habit for basic, ugly, cheap polyester clothes, many orders and sisters still choose to wear the modest habit. I think the hijab would be more comfortable than some of the head gear I see on these women. (Anybody old enough to remember "They Flying Nun?" Anyone could fly with wings for head gear.)

Enough; I am not really attempting to disparage the Catholic Church. Rather, I am disparaging the stupidity of a business that uses female body parts as a marketing gimmick and aligns itself with Celtic, Catholic culture at the same time. The marketing chimps missed out on this one.

This day was bound to come. According to the Boston Business Journal, Catholic Boston is speaking out against the Tilted Kilt, and regardless of the separation of church and state they do get to have a say.

Any business that sells alcohol in Boston, Massachusetts must get the approval of any school or church within 500 feet of it's location. Richard Cannon, the pastor at St. John the Baptist Church, says that he was never contacted about the Tilted Kilt, and he does not want them near where his congregation comes to pray.

Tilted Kilt is attempting to move into a location that was formerly an Outback Steakhouse. Catholics do not find Outback Steakhouse offensive because the servers are fully clothed, don't pretend to interested in sexual flirtation with patrons and don't answer questions about what underwear they are wearing.

Also according to the Boston Business Journal, Cannon

"...reportedly denounced the establishment in a church bulletin as "not conducive to good family neighborhoods." Cannon protested a city licensing process that sent the proposed Tilted Kilt outpost up for state approval, without his say-so.

Sounds like they tried to bypass him, but he noticed. Good for Canon. And for the record, there is no such things as "Irish Nachos." Just ask anyone from Ireland. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Yelp

This is hilarious. Chris Kipiniak performs first in a series of actors reading restaurant reviews posted on Yelp. While I am no fan of professional restaurant reviews because they are bought and paid for (ie, fake,) this series highlights what happens when everybody gets a chance to weigh in.

According to the New York Times,

"The video was the brainchild of Joe Plummer, an actor from New York, who said the idea came when he and his wife, Natalie Markoff, saw a billboard for a restaurant they had been meaning to visit. He found the Yelp reviews and read them aloud while his wife drove."





So, which actress should be chosen to play Springs1? ;-)