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Boycotting PS7

Raids Jan 27, 2010 09:31 AM

You can read the full story here, including a statement from the restaurant:


Apparently, after a diner posted a comment about a waitress drinking from her cockail at the table (with a humorous, and not hostile tone, I might add) PS7, when unable to coax a confession from any of the waitresses on staff that night, fired all four female servers who worked that night.

I find that kind of scorched earth policy to be particularly appalling in this economy, and also in violation of Title VII anti-discrimination on the basis of sex. If the diner had reported that an Asian server had done the same, and there were four Asian servers on staff, would PS7 have fired them all based on their race? It's no different for sex.

The waitresses were offered their jobs back (probably after consulting with their lawyer) but all but one refused. I can't say I blame them, and I will not be dining at this restaurant.

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  1. g
    Glindathegood1 RE: Raids Jan 27, 2010 09:56 AM

    Weird. If this person was so upset about the service, why didn't they complain to the manager when they were in the restaurant instead of posting online? If they did that, the manager would know at what table they were at and who was their server.
    I was at PS7 once a long time ago. I was not terribly impressed by their food plus their prices were a little high for me. So I haven't felt compelled to return.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Glindathegood1
      Raids RE: Glindathegood1 Jan 27, 2010 10:34 AM

      Yeah, this is a good warning to be careful regarding what you post about places of business online. In addition to possible liability for defamation, you can accidentally recreate that Seinfeld episode where George accidentally ruins the busboy's life (without saving it at the end).

      On other hand, the original poster wasn't even trying to make a scathing complaint - to me, the story was being shared as an amusing incident. So, even though I think the poster had some responsibility to mention it to the restaurant, arguably, this is really the restaurant's fault for overreacting in an extreme and, in my opinion, blatantly illegal fashion.

      And yeah, shaogo, I'm not one to normally suggest boycotting a restaurant. But sex discrimination is a compelling enough reason for me.

      1. re: Raids
        weezycom RE: Raids Feb 1, 2010 03:48 PM

        I wouldn't chalk it up to sex discrimination. They fired all the waitresses that were on duty that night because it was a female server involved. I think it was definitely way over the top, too, to handle it in such a manner, but unless they had a server in full drag, they knew none of the male servers were culpable.

        1. re: weezycom
          akq RE: weezycom Feb 1, 2010 08:31 PM

          Each of the waitresses fired was fired because she was female...sounds like sex discrimination to me.

          1. re: weezycom
            irishnyc RE: weezycom Feb 2, 2010 03:36 AM

            I agree that it's not sex discrimination. Had they fired all the female servers after the diner said "a server" sipped their drink, that would be sex discrimination. I also agree it was an over the top reaction.

            1. re: irishnyc
              jpc8015 RE: irishnyc Feb 2, 2010 03:41 AM

              Also, they only terminated the female servers who were on shift that week. Had they fired all females regardless of whether they were on shift or not, that would be gender discrimination.

      2. r
        reiflame RE: Raids Jan 27, 2010 10:13 AM

        I was thinking of making a post about this after reading today's chat, thanks for saving me the trouble!

        I'm pretty horrified by management's response, but I've worked in enough restaurants to know how awful most restaurant managers are.

        My opinion of PS7 has definitely declined because of it, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

        1. shaogo RE: Raids Jan 27, 2010 10:25 AM

          I'm not from DC but clicked on this thread when I saw the word "boycott."

          Its interesting to see what kinds of things restaurants are up to that impel customers to transcend just not going back and actually call for others to join their boycott.

          I've seen quite a few posts that call for boycotts of a restaurant. The behavior of this restaurant's management in this instance, however, merits some sort of organized action on the part of its customers/potential customers.

          It's important for a restaurant to support its employees (unless of course an employee is malfeasant). Perhaps in an effort to appeal to the online masses, this restaurant took seriously an anonymous (and less-than-serious) post by someone who said they'd dined in the restaurant, and fired four people. Fired them. One employee, perhaps, if they were already in hot water vis-a-vis warnings, etc. But I can't believe that four employees deserved termination without a warning. This pandering to the small minority of diners who post online is similar to the p/r approach of the guy who submitted the 100 things servers shouldn't do to the New York Times. Some of the on-liners applauded long and loud, but many more *laughed* out loud and realize what a pipe dream that list is.

          I, for one, will be following this story closely.

          1 Reply
          1. re: shaogo
            Parrotgal RE: shaogo Feb 1, 2010 10:28 AM

            In my waitressing days, I never worked for any restaurant that supported its employees in any way, except when I worked at McDonald's. If it hadn't been for being stuck with no staff, I'm sure any of my weasly managers would have fired everybody without a second though.

          2. y
            yfunk3 RE: Raids Jan 27, 2010 11:24 AM

            The firing part wasn't really what got to me. What got to me was that the manager/whoever had the power to make such decisions decided to believe an anonymous account on a chat where people are clearly inclined to exaggerate their restaurant experiences (good or bad), and then took it seriously enough to act like someone had made the same complaint in person without clearing it up with WaPo/Sietsema in the first place.

            I read the "complaint" when it first came up in last week's chat and thought it was sort of a frivolous thing to send to a Sietsema chat, especially if they weren't BOTHERED by it. If you're not bothered by it, and you personally shrugged it off as a one-time/Restaurant Week/bad luck sort of incident...why are you telling the WaPo food critic and asking him if it was typical and what one should expect at a high-end restaurant?

            Of course, it was Sietsema's/WaPo's decision to actually showcase that complaint, so what can you do (rhetorical question)? In the end, it was just a way-too-dramatic way of showing that "the customer always comes first" from the PS7 manager.

            1 Reply
            1. re: yfunk3
              hill food RE: yfunk3 Jan 27, 2010 01:07 PM

              yes yfunk3. someone's comment today made sense, the owner should have posted back asking the chatter to contact him/her directly and in the meantime lectured the staff on correct behavior before summarily dismissing them all. (personally when I read that last week all I could think was 'this server had to have been stoned')

            2. jgg13 RE: Raids Feb 1, 2010 10:53 AM

              I'm curious, if they had fired all of the white males, would you still be boycotting? I can see viewing their actions as absolutely stupid, but I think the fact that they were women was incidental and not indicative of some greater bias.

              18 Replies
              1. re: jgg13
                reiflame RE: jgg13 Feb 1, 2010 11:46 AM

                Absolutely - sexism and racism trascend minorities.

                For me, this is more about terrible management practices and less about sexism.

                1. re: reiflame
                  jgg13 RE: reiflame Feb 1, 2010 02:46 PM

                  Just checking. The tone of your post made it seem the opposite, which to me seemed like making mountains out of molehills. The likelihood that this had anything to do with the servers being female outside of the anonymous offending server being female seems pretty remote to me

                  1. re: jgg13
                    reiflame RE: jgg13 Feb 2, 2010 04:26 AM

                    All I said was that I was horrified of management's response - I didn't say anything about gender. I'm not the original poster.

                    1. re: reiflame
                      jgg13 RE: reiflame Feb 2, 2010 07:18 AM

                      Ah sorry, I thought you were the OP

                2. re: jgg13
                  Raids RE: jgg13 Feb 2, 2010 08:38 AM

                  Absolutely. That's reverse sex discrimination. Additionally, in a discrimination suit, the test is not whether the employer was intentionally being discriminatory - it's whether the individuals who were terminated were terminated because of their sex. This seems obvious to me - if I were terminated from a law firm because a client reported an issue with an otherwise unidentifiable female attorney, I would certainly file suit if they turned around and terminated all the female attorneys on staff. In that situation, I didn't do a single thing wrong *besides* being a female.

                  It is a defense to say the discrimination was necessary for some kind of business reason - and that's what PS7 would argue here - but it can be rebutted by showing their were less discriminatory alternatives that could have been undertaken to solve the problem. And I don't hear a lot of argument on this thread about that.

                  1. re: Raids
                    akq RE: Raids Feb 2, 2010 09:47 AM

                    Word. It's a real bummer to read posters' theories on why this wasn't sex discrimination and what it would take for it to have been sex discrimination.

                    1. re: akq
                      jpc8015 RE: akq Feb 2, 2010 10:20 AM

                      It wasn't gender discrimination.

                      I'm not saying that it wasn't a complete over-reaction on the part of management, but is wasn't discrimination.

                      1. re: jpc8015
                        akq RE: jpc8015 Feb 2, 2010 11:40 AM

                        Just saying it over and over doesn't make it so. If you have any legal authority to support your position, I'd be very interested to read it.

                        Otherwise, from my understanding of gender discrimination law (albeit, from law school as I do not practive employment law) is that this would be a colorable claim for gender discrimination (i.e. that the reason the servers were fired were that they are female - if they had not been female, they would not have been fired and that there were less discriminatory ways for the mgmt to handle the situation).

                        1. re: akq
                          dump123456789 RE: akq Feb 2, 2010 03:27 PM

                          It sounds like you're saying that, to avoid discrimination based on gender, they should have fired every server who was working at that time, not just the female ones. This solution would also be a complete over-reaction, but at least it would be non-discriminatory.

                          1. re: dump123456789
                            jpc8015 RE: dump123456789 Feb 2, 2010 08:08 PM

                            Why don't we just close the restaurant down and fire everybody? That way we can avoid the apppearance of having discriminated against people.

                            For this to be gender descrimination they would have had to fire every female regardless of whether they were on shift or not. They didn't do that. They fired the people who fit the description of the person who supposedly broke the law; AND were on shift at the time. Not every female member of the wait staff was fired.

                            1. re: jpc8015
                              thirtyeyes RE: jpc8015 Feb 3, 2010 12:03 AM

                              I'm voting against you on this one. Seems like discrimination to me, but we'll never know unless it goes to court.

                              1. re: jpc8015
                                Raids RE: jpc8015 Feb 3, 2010 05:13 AM

                                No, the Supreme Court has held that "mixed motive" cases are still discrimination as long as gender is *a* motivating factor in termination. It's perfectly fine to think that this shouldn't be illegal, if that's your opinion, of course, but I assure you that it *is* illegal.

                                I should add that I no longer practice employment discrimination law either, but I'm not aware of any major changes in this area over the last two years.

                      2. re: Raids
                        jgg13 RE: Raids Feb 2, 2010 10:48 AM

                        And that, in a nutshell, is why I think the people in this country are bonkers.

                        Pretty soon people are going to start whining about "crappy employee discrimination" too

                        1. re: jgg13
                          jpc8015 RE: jgg13 Feb 2, 2010 10:54 AM

                          You can't discriminate against people who like to sleep in and miss their shift.

                          1. re: jpc8015
                            hill food RE: jpc8015 Feb 2, 2010 09:53 PM

                            @jpc & jgg: does this mean when I DO manage to find another job, I'll actually have to show up?

                            that's sort of a deterrent I hadn't counted on. gonna have to re-think this employment thing.

                            I still stand that a lecture and training would have been the more appropriate start. but isn't this topic getting stale?

                            1. re: hill food
                              jpc8015 RE: hill food Feb 2, 2010 10:40 PM

                              Agreed. A lecture and training would have been far more appropriate. This was a gross over reaction.

                              1. re: jpc8015
                                hill food RE: jpc8015 Feb 3, 2010 12:43 AM

                                did anyone notice this got moved from DC/Baltimore to "Not About Food"

                                I think that probably is a better place, but it is sort of a regional place/topic.

                                did I miss the usu. notice, or is that part of the new rules? or am I flipping out and it was always here?

                                1. re: hill food
                                  reiflame RE: hill food Feb 3, 2010 04:21 AM

                                  No, it was moved - it does fit pretty well in both categories (DC/Baltimore and Not About Food)

                    2. j
                      just_M RE: Raids Feb 1, 2010 06:43 PM

                      I don't know about there but here in OR if the server is caught drinking on the job or even in uniform and on the premises the establishment can have it's liquor license taken. Given how expensive liquor licenses are and how much they; via liquor sales bring in,I'd fire them all too. This is not humanities, this is business 101, if the threat is not removed everyone can lose their job.

                      1. j
                        jpc8015 RE: Raids Feb 2, 2010 02:12 AM

                        The only way this could be interpreted as discrimination based on gender is if they stopped hiring females because they once had a female server do something stupid.

                        1. hala RE: Raids Feb 9, 2010 07:09 AM

                          the servers who were fired would not have been fired had the been male, therefore it is gender discrimination.I would have said the same thing had they fired all men.

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