(WSVN) - Being a waiter, waitress or bartender is even tougher during COVID, and one server was stunned to find out a restaurant wanted her to serve alcohol to minors. When she said no, she was told to go away, and it’s why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
With every job, there is good and bad. The good side of being a waitress?
“Ashley,” wouldn’t serve alcohol: “It’s easy to be hired, because they’re so understaffed.”
But since it seems every restaurant is understaffed, the downside is even worse than before.
“Ashley”: “The food takes much longer to arrive to the tables now, so the customers are yelling at the servers. It’s just 10 times worse now.”
Ashley is not her name, and if you’re wondering why we’re not showing her face, her answer is simple.
“Ashley”: “I don’t want to be blackballed as a snitch.”
Ashley was surprised after she got a job at a high-end restaurant in South Florida. A high-tipping restaurant.
“Ashley”: “I was told that the servers make between $1,500 and $2,000 a week, and one server actually told me he makes $1,000 in one shift.”
But Ashley quickly found out, as she was being trained by another waiter, that while there was a lot of cash, there were not a lot of rules.
“Ashley”: “There were two girls who ordered alcohol, and they looked young, but he did not ask for ID at all. It was my first day of training, so I didn’t say anything.”
On the third day, Ashley’s trainer was shadowing her. When she had a table where young girls ordered alcohol, she checked their licenses.
“Ashley”: “Her birthdate, on the year, it said 2002.”
The girls were 19, and you have to be 21 to consume alcohol. Ashley said no to the drinks, but her trainer stepped in.
“Ashley”: “He told me to go and ring in the drink, and I said, ‘I’m not ringing in that drink.'”
Her trainer then served the 19-year-olds the alcohol. A few minutes later, Ashley’s boss came up to her.
“Ashley”: “Actually asked me to give a round of free drinks to the table, and I was confused.”
Ashley said she would not serve teenagers alcohol, so another waiter delivered the drinks.
The next day, Ashley was told, she was fired.
“Ashley”: “I believe they let me go because I refused to serve the alcohol to that table where the kids were under the age of 21, and it seems like they have a culture of not checking IDs.”
Ashley said the money at the job would have been nice to have, but the consequences of serving alcohol to a minor were not worth the risk.
“Ashley”: “That’s against the law. I know servers who have actually been arrested for that.”
Howard, legally, how does the law view this?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “This is a crime for the business, the person who serves the alcohol and the underage person who drinks it. They could all be charged with sale or possession of alcohol by a minor. Ashley acted correctly by refusing to deliver the drink, and Florida law prohibits an employer from any retaliatory action against someone for refusing to break the law. Legally, she could get her job back, back pay and legal fees if she chose to go after them.”
We contacted the restaurant. They claimed they had no knowledge of minors being served alcohol, but they would make sure the owner knew about Ashley’s experience.
Howard Finkelstein: “If the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco can prove the restaurant served or serves alcohol to a minor, they could pull their liquor license, and a restaurant without a liquor license is doomed. Also, if the state’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency concludes alcohol is being sold, they can charge the business with a crime and send people to jail. Hopefully, it is clear serving alcohol to a minor is legally dangerous.”
Ashley has filed a complaint with the state but says, even if the restaurant offered her job back, she’d say, “I’ve had enough. No, thanks.”
“Ashley”: “I don’t cry over these things anymore, because I’m so used to it now, working in the industry, being mistreated in these fine dining restaurants.”
Now, what if a kid has a fake license and gets a drink? In that case, the server and the business are off the hook, but the minor could be charged with underage drinking. Not worth to have that on your record to get a drink.
Trouble brewing for you? Lost the spirit to solve it? Serve it up to us, so we can draft up a solution.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Complaints can be made to DBPR’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT) by using the form HERE.
Citizens can also file a complaint by telephone, email or in person at one of the local district offices.
Once a complaint is made, they are investigated by the ABT Bureau of Law Enforcement. Then, depending on the circumstances, they would conduct a compliance survey on the location.
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