UnderCover Waitress: Favoritism

Friday, April 5, 2013


My last post, Our Bar is in Desperate Need of Help, discussed some of the ins and outs of determining how to figure fair tip outs. The issues brought up by my "Ask the Waitress" reader were numerous and complicated. One of those issues was blatant favoritism.

To reiterate:

The new manager brings in his ex-girlfriend as our new waitress. He also institutes rules that make our bar consistent with other bars (i.e. waitress orders drinks and pays the bartender for those drinks). So now, we are doing everything. All the things we were doing before (cleaning, stocking, dishes, inventory, closing the register) as well as making all her waters, sodas, opening beers (everything a bartender normally does for a waitress). She is a real go getter, which is great. The customers are getting good service most of the time.  
She does nothing to help with the upkeep of the bar. She comes in, makes money and leaves. Everything is our job.
The new bar manager is quick to jump to her side and will only allow us to receive 3% of the tips she claims to make. She had to help me bar tend one night and I caught her hiding tips that we were supposed to share 50/50 in a drawer. There is no way to determine how much she makes and when we bring up that incident, he is quick to dance around the subject and come to her defense. 
She intercepts customers on their way to the bar and as a result, our income has been cut in half. If someone starts a tab at the bar, and orders ONE drink from her, we are forced to give her the tab and miss out on everything but still do 80 percent of the job because she is merely relaying a message. We have been having great busy nights where we don't make any money behind the bar, and her tip out is less than five dollars. 
What should we do about the favoritism and blatant theft that is being ignored? we love this bar and our owner, but every time we bring any of this up, we just look like we are complaining and being greedy.
There is a saying, "Don't dip your pen in the company ink." This bar manager brought in his own ink well. 

Fellow blogger Diane Carlisle  has experience in the restaurant industry. Her daughter is currently walking the floor in the trenches with the rest of us. Diane had wise words to share in the comments section of my last post; I share some of them here and encourage you to visit the post read everything she said in context.

I hate it that wait staff and bartenders have to deal with this sort of thing. My daughter is a server and she does pretty well where she is, but things can get petty, and then things can get just out right criminal. 
 When you are talking about someone's livelihood, if you're the owner, you have a responsibility to address these concerns.  
Let's just say this is my daughter who is having issues as a bartender, such like the waitress is stealing tips. Call a grievance meeting with the owner and manager. The manager is accountable to the owner, and if they owner doesn't know what's going on, it won't get resolved.  
If after the owner has been confronted along side the manager, things don't change, start looking for another job. 
... there are people out there who favor one over another. It's not professional and it certainly isn't healthy.
 And later in the conversation:
There are so many business owners who operate inefficiently because they rely on "experts" who are not qualified to run their business.
She said it for me. :-) 

One of my lawyer friends specializes in employment and labor law. His favorite thing to say is, "It's not illegal to be an a$$hole." It's not. 

Blatant favoritism is not against the law. Business owners may hire and fire whomever they wish to work for them. So, if you get fired and replaced with somebody's nephew, you don't have a legal complaint. 

Nobody is getting fired (yet?) in this bar, but there is blatant favoritism that is unfair. Problem is, it is not illegal. Which leaves the wait staff a few choices: 

1 -- complain to the owner. 
2 -- suck it up and make less money. 
3 -- quit. 

Diane's words were wise: she mentioned requesting a meeting with the owner (and maybe the bar manager at the same time, if you think that will work.) Personally, I am not always comfortable with confrontation and would likely sugar-coat if the bar manager were present in the initial meeting. Just make sure when you have a meeting that you remain calm and give specific examples of the behavior you would like to see change. 

"The bar manager and new waitress are poo-poo-heads" will not get you very far. 

"I believe we should implement a system of tipping out based upon sales to keep us all honest" is better. You can mention that you saw the waitress hiding tips; she will deny it. 

"The bartender income has dropped since the new policies have been implemented." 

"We would like to go over side work duties in an attempt to make them fair for everyone." 

"We feel unable to discuss behavioral issues with the bar manager because of his tendency to always side with his former girlfriend. We would appreciate your (the owner's) objectivity and looking into this situation." 

Diane said it best: an employer has a responsibility to his staff to deal with interpersonal and economic issues that arise. If he refuses, he deserves to lose his staff. Which brings me to one more point for today: 


I got the impression from my reader's post that everybody who was initially involved in the opening of this bar/restaurant was family and friends. Perhaps my reader is friends with the owner, and this is complicating her or his ability to confront and owner and offer valid and legitimate complaints? 

Don't let it. Friends respect each other's boundaries. Friends can disagree with each other. Friends don't expect friends to put up with being mistreated, or come to work and make no money. Friends don't stop being friends because you make a professional decision to not work somewhere anymore. 

The situation as described is untenable and unprofessional. If the bar and manager and his girlfriend don't treat bartenders appropriately, then they can handle all of the work by themselves because the bartenders will cease to work there. 


  1. A good follow-up with favoritism. We live in a college town (FSU, FAMU) so people in business around here are going to have buddies and sorority sisters, etc, hooking each other up. This also makes jobs more competitive and scarce if you don't know people. It sucks you can't do much about it either, especially in this economy where jobs are hard to come by.

    1. Thanks. I should say something about multiple relationships in a future post. When people muddy the line between "friend" and "co-worker," everything suffers.

    2. Have I got a story for that one! lol

    3. Hey! You are a tease! ;-D (You know I'd be happy to let you guest post, hint, hint.)

    4. Sometimes my comments here get to be so long, I may as well have sent it to you in an email and let you post it as an entry. :D

      Potential Topic if you haven't done it yet. I would be happy to guest post it.

      Cheap tricks to increase your tips.

    5. Please feel free; I benefit and am happy to send readers in your direction!

      Contact UCW and I will email you back -- then you will have my email addy. :)

      At your convenience and if you are so inclined, I would love to hear from you.


      Read more: http://undercoverwaitress.blogspot.com Under Cover Waitress: Favoritism http://www.undercoverwaitress.com/2013/04/favoritism.html#ixzz2PbuOzcoF
      Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial

  2. If it was illegal to be an ass, the prisons would be even more overflowing than they already are.


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