This is one fish tale that’s coming back to bite.
A Tennessee man outraged at being branded a racist after an apparent racism hoax at a Red Lobster restaurant is suing the restaurant and the waitress involved for $1 million, accusing both of slandering him in a case that went viral on the Internet.
According to news accounts, the customer, Devin Barnes, 21, filed the lawsuit Thursday over an incident in September 2013 where Barnes’ name was clearly identifiable in a Facebook entry posted by Red Lobster waitress Toni Jenkins that showed a restaurant receipt with the word “none” in the tip line and the word “n*****” written below it.
In the post, Jenkins, who is black, claimed the racial slur had been written by a white, according to the Daily Mail.
“This is what I got as a tip last night…so happy to live in the proud southern states…God Bless America, land of the free and home of the low class racists of Tennessee,” Jenkins wrote.
Barnes’ signature is below the slur.
The posting paid off for Jenkins. As the story spread, a lefty website called AddictingInfo.org covered it extensively in a self-satisfied, nauseatingly liberal kind of way (type “Jenkins” into the site’s search bar and see the stories). It eventually raised $10,000 as part of a “Tips for Toni” campaign to soothe the 19-year-old’s battered feeling.
Now, Barnes wants some compensation of his own for being branded a racist.
He hired a handwriting analyst who says he didn’t write the slur, according to reports. On Friday, the Daily Caller reported that its own handwriting expert had compared the slur on the receipt to samples of Jenkins’ handwriting and concluded “within a reasonable degree of certainty” that “n*****” was written in Jenkins’ handwriting.
According to the Daily Caller, Jenkins denies writing the word, but said she doesn’t believe Barnes did either. She said she was willing to apologize to Barnes.
Besides naming Jenkins as a defendant, Barnes’ suit includes Red Lobster because it maintains the restaurant did not handle the situation correctly. It first suspended Jenkins for posting a customer’s private information online, then allowed her to return to work after it investigated.
“No one should have to endure what our employee went through last weekend,” a company spokesman said after Jenkins was reinstated.
Commenting on the lawsuit last week, though, the company sounded more neutral.
“As we shared before, it is against our policy to post guest information online,” a spokeswoman said, according to WCBD.
“Our standard procedure is to suspend the employee involved with pay while we determine what happened. After the completion of a full investigation into this matter, Miss Jenkins returned to work. As we also shared, we were disgusted by the language used on this guest check as it has no place in our restaurant or anywhere else.”
Considering that big restaurant chains are a lot more likely to have $1 million to pay a legal judgment than most waitresses who work in them, Red Lobster might have more to be disgusted about than racist language before too long.
CORRECTION: This post has been updated to clarify Jenkins received $10,000 from the “Tips for Toni” campaign.
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