Waitress Assaulted and Abducted by Five Dine and Dashers
A 20-year-old waitress this weekend was abducted and assaulted after chasing a group of five diners who were allegedly skipping out on their $70 check. The horrifying incident happened Saturday night at Nifty Fifty’s in Turnersville, about 20 miles southeast of Philadelphia. “They pulled her into the vehicle and assaulted her inside the vehicle,” said Washington Township Police Chief Patrick Gurcsik. She was soon pushed out of the car when she ran back to the restaurant to call 911. She was taken to the hospital and later released with bruises and a possible concussion. Police are still searching for the suspects and they advise employees to try to take down the license plate of customers who dine without paying and call authorities. “Do not chase after accused suspects and confront them yourselves,” said Gurcsik.
“Easier said than done, officer,” replied every single waiter or waitress who has ever had to face the consequences of a dine and dash.
Far too many restaurants expect the server to be responsible for covering the bill when a slimy, POS customer skips out on it. Restaurants always seem to think that the only reason a customer is skipping out on the bill is because the server, somehow, wasn’t doing their job. But here’s the deal: if a customer is planning on skipping out on their bill, no amount of “checking up on them” is going to change their mind. That customer is going to sit at the table until the perfect opportunity arises for them to get up without being seen. What are servers supposed to do, stay on the floor and keep their eyeballs glued to them at every second? As soon as that happens, they’re gonna hear a manager squawking about how she needs runners in the kitchen and that is just the opportunity John Q. Asshole at Table 209 is waiting for. As soon as that waiter sets foot in the kitchen, he’s bolting out of the restaurant quicker than a Cheesy Gordita Crunch from Taco Bell makes its way through a digestive tract. And when the server tells their manager that Table 209 walked, she’ll be all, “Well, I guess you weren’t paying enough attention to them, were you? That’s coming out of your tips.”
But is that legal? Here’s what the Department of Labor has to say about it:
Where deductions for walk-outs, breakage, or cash register shortages reduce the employee’s wages below the minimum wage, such deductions are illegal. Where a tipped employee is paid $2.13 per hour in direct (or cash) wages and the employer claims the maximum tip credit of $5.12 per hour, no such deductions can be made without reducing the employee below the minimum wage (even where the employee receives more than $5.12 per hour in tips).
In other words, under federal wage-and-hour law, a restaurant can expect a server to pay the loss from the dine-and-dash if it does not cause the employee’s wages to dip below the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour for non-exempt employees. Say it with me: BULLSHIT! If a customer steals a pint glass, does the server pay for that too? I don’t think Macy’s employees are responsible for shoplifters, so why do servers get this distinction?
Some restaurant owners/managers will be understanding about a walkout, but anyone who works in a restaurant knows that if a manager is a big enough jerk to try to make a server pay for a walkout and they refuse to do it, they will just find another reason to fire that server. Insubordination, tardiness, a dirty uniform, whatever…
It’s no wonder this waitress felt an obligation to chase after those five people to get their money. She’s not the first server to put her life at risk for this same reason. A waitress at an Applebee’s was hit by a car when she chased down a dine and dasher. Another group of restaurant workers were pepper sprayed by a customer when they attempted to stop him from leaving without paying.
Look, if you have a customer who is intent on leaving the restaurant without paying for their food, don’t risk your life for it. Do you think the restaurant would do the same thing for you? No, it 100% would not. These are the same employers who won’t let you eat a plate if dead french fries in the middle of a ten-hour shift. Just get the license plate of the criminals and hope that your manager understands that there are shitty people in this world.
As for the waitress in New Jersey, she’s physically fine and probably mentally a wreck. I hope those five diners get caught. What could have been a simple misdemeanor for skipping out a check is now probably aggravated assault, kidnapping and overall assholeness.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 856-589-0330 ext 1160 or you can email tips to Det. M.Longfellow at firstname.lastname@example.org.