TN man sues Red Lobster for $1 million after waitress accused him of leaving racist receipt

By Travis Gettys
Monday, June 2, 2014 9:18 EDT
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Devin Barnes
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A Tennessee man has sued Red Lobster and a waitress who accused him of writing a racial slur on a restaurant receipt.

Devin Barnes filed a $1 million lawsuit Tuesday against the restaurant chain and waitress Toni Jenkins, who posted a photo of the receipt on Facebook that showed the customer’s personal information.

Barnes said he ran short on time during a September visit to the Cool Springs, Tenn., eatery, so he asked the waitress to box up his food in a to-go container, and he wrote “none” on the receipt’s tip line.

But Jenkins posted a photo of the receipt, which also had the word “n*gger” written where the total amount of the bill should be indicated.

“It was like my heart kind of sank, and I was like, ‘Wow,’” Jenkins said days after the incident. “I’m going through my mind. I’m like, ‘Was my service awful? Did I do something?’ I’ve never had to deal with that before.”

The photo was widely shared across social media, including Facebook and YouTube, and Barnes said he received “death threats from all over the world” after the waitress posted his personal information online.

“The defendant, Toni Christina Jenkins, would not cease in her exploitation of the plaintiff, accusing him of being a ‘racists’ and dramatizing the issue to a point that the profited from it by having and/or participating in a fund-raising computer site making almost $11,000 (eleven thousand dollars) from the wrongful use of the plaintiff’s name and bank information and defaming the reputation of your plaintiff,” the suit claims.

Barnes, who is white, insists he did not write the racial epithet, and his suit claims a forensic handwriting expert can demonstrate that it wasn’t written by him.

The suit claims Red Lobster did not do enough to contain the situation, but the restaurant claims it forbids the posting of guest information online.

“Our standard procedure is to suspend the employee involved with pay while we determine what happened,” the restaurant said in a statement. “After the completion of a full investigation into this matter, Ms. Jenkins returned to work.”

He said Red Lobster offered to reimburse him for the meal after he complained, but he declined, saying the food was good.

Watch this video report posted online by WSMV-TV:

WSMV Channel 4

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