Applebee’s server sparks debate with photo of customer’s low tip: ‘The nerve of some of y’all’

A TikToker has sparked debate on the platform after sharing an Applebee’s receipt exposing a customer’s substandard tip.

The user @kingj24__ posted footage of a receipt from a franchise location in Staten Island, N.Y., showing a $6.55 tip left for a server named Dana G. The total bill plus the tip is $80, meaning the cost of the meal was $73.45. The tip comes out to around 9% of the bill. That’s significantly less than the standard 20% tip, which would have been $13.49 in this instance.

It is unclear if the TikToker who shared the receipt is the server in question.

The customer also left a hand-written message on the receipt explaining the low tip.

“You [were] great,” they wrote. “Holidays are just rough right now.”

They added in an arrow pointing to the tip and a frowning face.

TikTokers were divided in the comments of the video, which has since racked up over 711,000 views. Some pointed out that the customer, who seemed to be going through some financial struggle, did at least leave a tip, albeit a small one.

“It’s only $4.45 less than the typical 15% average tip,” one user commented. “But at the same time, you don’t know that family’s struggle. [At] least they left you a tip.”

“The nerve of some of y’all,” wrote another. “Gatekeeping taking your family out to dinner for the financially blessed. What type of BS is ‘stay home if you’re broke.'”

“This makes me really not want to go to Applebee’s,” commented a third. “It’s a low tip, but it’s still a tip. Calling out customers like this is wrong.”

Still, others believed that the customer shouldn’t be dining out if they cannot tip fully, as waiters rely on their tips as a primary source of income.

“You can afford $73 and some change to feed yourself but not enough to tip?” commented one person. “Don’t eat out if you can’t afford the service.

“If I can’t afford a 20% tip, then [I’m] not going out for an 80$ meal,” wrote another.

Some TikTokers turned the conversation around, noting that restaurants should be fairly compensating their employees so they do not have to live off of tips.

“Ban tipping,” one user wrote. “Force the restaurants to pay servers living wages.”

“Don’t blame the tipper, blame the establishment,” wrote another. “These people shouldn’t have to rely on tips to barely make ends meet.”

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

However, as trial attorney Laura Lawless explains for The National Law Review, businesses that employ tipped workers are legally allowed to pay them as little as $2.13 per hour, though the number varies by state.

This is because employers can take a “tip credit” of up to $5.12 per hour against the $7.25 federal minimum wage obligation — meaning that as long as an employee’s hourly wage plus their tips equals $7.25 an hour or over, the low wage is considered legal.

According to tax and auditing firm Plante Moran, tip credits are meant to “give some relief to businesses that pay an employer’s share of employment taxes on tip income paid to their employees by someone else.”

But Lawless notes that the long-standing tip credit model “presumes that tipped employees receive a steady flow of tips and spend nearly all of their working hours engaged in tip-generating labor,” which does not “always align with reality.”

Many tipped employees, for instance, might be tasked with time-consuming duties for which they are not tipped, such as bookkeeping and cleaning, while receiving just $2.13 an hour for such labor.

On Oct. 28, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the “Final Rule,” which will require employers to pay the full federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour to tipped workers who spend more than 20% of the workweek on tasks not directly engaged in tip-producing work. 

The rule will go into effect Dec. 28.

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