Nobody really likes it when a restaurant adds an automatic tip for larger parties, especially when the party isn’t all that large. At La Fisherman in Houston, they tack on a mandatory seventeen percent.
Still, a policy’s a policy, and minimum wage for tipped employees in the state of Texas is just $2.13 an hour. But earlier this month, as Jennifer Bauer of KPRC originally reported, Houstonian Jasmine Marks put her foot down, saying that her party of five didn’t want to pay the seventeen percent because they had rude, inadequate service, including food that was never served and drinks that didn’t get refilled. As Bauer wrote:
The gratuity policy was clearly marked on the restaurant’s menus. But Marks said when they questioned it the workers wouldn’t let her or her friends leave; she claims they locked the door and called the police.
“She was like, ‘You have an unsettled bill and ya’ll can’t leave until you pay it,'” Marks said. “We paid our bill for what we ate, we paid the bill.”
Marks said it was only the 17 percent tip they were questioning.
“She said, ‘That’s fine. If you don’t want to pay the gratuity we have HPD outside,'” Marks said. “I asked the police officer twice, maybe three times, is it against the law if we don’t pay the gratuity and he never gave me a straight answer.”
A comment (by “Joe”) on CNN’s food site Eatocracy, while probably not accurate in the legal sense, does sum up the situation’s mutually assured destruction:
So the patrons technically commit a misdemeanor for not paying their full bill, then the wait staff goes and commits felony false imprisonment. Real intelligent.