Arkansas waitress fired after refusing to split $4,000 tip with co-workers

An Arkansas waitress was reportedly fired after she received a hefty tip of more than $4,000 from a table of generous customers on Friday.

Ryan Brandt was waiting tables at Oven and Tap in Bentonville, Arkansas, when one of her tables left a collective gratuity of $4,400, KNWA reports . Each diner had chipped in $100 in tip money, which they believed would go to both servers.

“We knew servers were really hit hard through COVID, and it was something that we had come up with to help give back,” Grant Wise, who dined at the eatery following a conference in town, told CBS 5.

The restaurant’s manager instructed Brandt to pool the tip with her co-workers who didn’t serve the large party, in an arrangement she told Fox 59 was unprecedented in her more than three years working there. “I was told that I was going to be giving my cash over to my shift manager, and I would be taking home 20 percent,” Brandt told the network.  

When Wise, who owns a real estate company called Witly, found out, he demanded the restaurant return the tip money, and then turned over $2,200 directly to Brandt. Brandt was relieved of her duties the following day.

“They fired me from Oven and Tap over the phone and I’ve been there for 3 1/2 years and that was really heartbreaking,” Brandt told CBS 5. “Especially because I didn’t think I did anything wrong.”

“It was devastating, I borrowed a significant amount for student loans,” Brandt said about losing her job. “Most of them were turned off because of the pandemic but they’re turning back on in January and that’s a harsh reality.”

In a statement, Oven and Tap said Brandt was fired for reasons unrelated to the tipping incident and that it “fully honored” the generous tippers’ requests to reward the pair of servers at their party.

“After dining, this large group of guests requested that their gratuity be given to two particular servers. We fully honored their request,” read the statement provided to local outlets. “Out of respect for our highly valued team members, we do not discuss the details surrounding the termination of an employee.”

“The server who was terminated several days after the group dined with us was not let go because she chose to keep the tip money,” the restaurant added. “The other two servers who received generous tips that evening from the Witly organization, including one who also received $2,200 are still members of our team.”

In response, Wise started a GoFundMe page for Brandt, which has raised over $8,700 as of Monday morning.

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