A woman refused to properly tip a waitress with a mental disability because she was flirting with her husband.
Not only was the server persistent in flattering her husband, she neglected to adequately serve the wife as a paying customer.
The couple remained at an impasse over the ethical dilemma of refusing to tip, so the original poster (OP) decided to solicit the opinion of Redditors.
"My husband and I have been disagreeing about this for a few weeks now. He suggested we post on here and see what the reddit thinks."
"My husband and I go to the local WaffleHouse about twice a month and know most of the waitresses and cooks."
"In the past (and still as far as i know) we have had a good rapport with all of them. I almost always tip 40% or more as I know that we can afford it and we always get excellent service."
Their favorite establishment welcomed a new employee and changed everything.
"Recently however WaffleHouse hired a new waitress who clearly has a mental disability."
"Now this doesn't bother us so we have no problem with her taking our order."
"However the problem began when she started telling my husband that he was 'very good looking' and asking him 'can you take me on a date?'
"To be honest it didn't really bother me the first few times she said it but she just wouldn't let it go. When it was time to get out glasses refilled she refilled his but shot me a dirty look when I asked her for a refill as well."
"This kind of behavior went on through out the course of the meal."
"When the meal was over and my husband asked me how much to tip in a $32.44 ticket I told him to leave the change so .56 cents."
"He didn't say anything at the time but later when we got home he told me that it bothered him that I didn't tip her well, and that she only acted that way because of her disability."
"My argument is if she can work there than she can do so without harassing clients. So AITA?"
Many Redditors agreed with the OP as being NTA (not the a**hole) and expressed that nobody gets a free pass in life for bad behavior.
"Having a mental disability doesn't not make you entitled to harassing people. Especially when those people are your paying customers."
"I would speak to management about this behaviour." – psyreignXD
"I flat out would have said to him. 'Instruct her that it is unacceptable!!' It's called discipline."
"As said in my initial post, Being mentally disabled, and or special needs does not give ANYONE a free pass for obviously bad behavior."
"Even toddlers can be taught, boundaries, same can be said about special needs. It may take longer to teach them, but it can be done, however no behavior will ever change if people refuse to address it." – Kittinlily
To say that people with special needs are not capable of learning and functioning in society is naive.
"It infuriates me when people say well they are special needs, as if that makes it impossible for them to learn or be taught."
"They are very capable of learning, It may not be on the same level as someone with out the disabilities, it just takes time, guidance and effort." – Kittinlily
"Unless they are so severe that their mental capacity is that of an infant they can and should be taught manners."
"Even if they are in that state they can also often be taught manners too. They are more frequent to tantrums but you work with them not around them."
"Had a Down syndrome boy come work at the summer camp I was a director at. He loved to go up to girls and ask them for a kiss."
"It took a lot of time and a lot of patience from the directors but by the end of the summer he had learned manners and many of the counselors and kids loved him. It's not hard at all." – Amberv63
"People use that excuse for autistic individuals all the time as the mom of an autistic child this drives me insane it is possible me and many of my friends with special needs children all work hard to help our children learn discipline and appropriate ways to act."
"So when people always claim or say they should let it go when they do something wrong well No and it's insulting to those of us who work hard as parents or guardians to make sure we instill such traits in our loved ones." – Maggie_Mayz
What disciplinary actions can be taken?
"The manager is likely scared to fire them as they're a protected class." – Huntracony
"The manager doesn't have to fire anyone. Just write them up."
"I used to be a restaurant manager. To avoid lawsuits or unemployment pay, you keep a paper trail. And stick to the FACTS only."
"In this case, I would have written that a customer commented that it was inappropriate behavior to discuss Robin Williams' suicide while wiping down tables, in front of customers. I discussed FOH appropriate behavior with the employee."
"Then sign/date form (both manager and employee). The form is then placed in the Employee's folder."
"Then if ever comes a time that they claim XYZ happened, there's a paper trail with the facts on it, signed by both parties." – sarcazm
This user suggested that the waitress might have made a connection between flirting and tipping.
"She might be under a wrong impression that flirting, no matter how inappropriate the circumstance (eg, wife right there) would earn her extra tips."
"I've seen this from people without disabilities before, she might just be mimicking. Not getting the tip might give her a nudge that it isn't the way to do it." – realdappermuis
A special education specialist agreed to an extent with the above theory but delved further.
"Unfortunately, this kind of flirting is sometimes (often) unchecked by well-meaning friends and family who forget the disabled person is an adult and needs to learn how to behave appropriately."
"They often assume the person will stay in a childlike state and protected environment where such kind of interaction is harmless."
"I disagree, though, that she would make the connection between the tip and her flirting."
"As far as she knows, you didn't like her service, or didn't like the food, or maybe you just didn't like her for another reason. She's not going to figure it out unless someone gives her specific feedback."
"If a waitress did that to me, I would talk to her and explain that we really appreciate her friendliness but we don't like jokes about dating because it makes me feel like... (just explain it)."
"I would also give feedback to the manager that the waitress did a great job and we want to see her again, but manager needs to make sure she learns more professional interaction. (This is also what OP should have done if they weren't comfortable speaking to her directly." – dorothydunnit
But even the specialist was reevaluated.
This person said that educating the waitress on acceptable conduct is not the customer's job.
"I get that you're a special ed specialist, but I think that is asking way too much of a patron of a restaurant."
"The purpose of going out to eat is to be served food without any hassle. Here the waitress did not do a good job, putting the 'jokes' to the husband aside, she was shooting dirty looks at the wife while shirking her duties as the server. So turned what should have been at least an unremarkable if not enjoyable experience into an uncomfortable situation."
"It's not OP's job to be in the position of educating the server in any way."
"If the server made her feel uncomfortable, she also has no obligation to try and be supportive of the server when speaking to the manager. If the OP was complaining it took the server a little extra time to write down an order or she was a little slower at putting the food down on the table in the right spots, sure OP should exercise some patience."
"But the server was downright rude and inappropriate. That behavior would likely lead to a quick termination for an employee without an intellectual disability."
"I am all for assimilation programs and try to be encouraging as possible. However, I think it's important that employers and the managers are made aware that an employee is acting extremely inappropriately and possibly exposing the business to the loss of customers."
"This is true if the person has an intellectual disability or not. The business manager or owner can then decide how to handle the situation."
"As the parent of a special needs daughter...I completely agree. It is not the patron's job to educate their server, regardless of her needs or abilities."
"If they want to write a note on the check/bill, that's one thing...but they absolutely should not confront the server."
"If nothing else, they could be seen as bullying the server if she starts to cry or get upset. Other people may not see her behavior, but they would see the waitress with special needs crying while a customer critiques her job."
"Nope. This is a job for her manager. Privately. Customers are there to be served, not to educate staff." – onlycomeoutatnight
The OP was overall seen as NTA based on the fact that she refused to tip based solely on the service.
"Just for a second disregard the fact that she has disabilities. You didn't enjoy the service, so you didn't have to tip. You paid for the meal."
"If she struggles to control herself, it is nothing to hold against her as a person, but definitely a solid reason to not be happy with her as your server. At work, her disability cannot be an excuse. Equal opportunities = equal responsibilities." – kent360
Sometimes, all we want as customers is to have our glasses refilled without the drama.