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Man accused of racial slur on check sues restaurant, waitress

Toni Christina Jenkins
Toni Christina JenkinsFacebook photo

If you are skeptical at this point over stories alleging racism or other forms of intolerance, you are not to be faulted. In the past four months, there have been no fewer than a dozen incidents in which a member of a “protected class” claimed to be the target of bigotry. All have proven hoaxes.

The latest incident is similar in its broad outlines to one of the best-known hoaxes, one involving a lesbian waitress who claimed an ugly anti-gay message was scrawled on her guest check on the line where the tip normally goes. The waitress, Dayna Morales, invented the incident and was summarily fired by the restaurant, but not before earning a tidy profit for her “pain and suffering” from bleeding heart supporters of her plight.

The latest would-be victim, also a waitress, has likewise been the recipient of a cash windfall, in this case totaling over $10,000. She is identified by The Tennessean as Toni Christina Jenkins. It is Jenkins’s contention that a customer wrote none on the line of the credit card receipt reserved for the tip rand scrawled the n-word in the space marked total.

Jenkins posted a photocopy of the receipt on Facebook page, along with the message:

This is what I got as a tip last night … so happy to live in the proud southern states … God Bless America, land of the free and home of the low class racists of Tennessee.

She also spelled out the name of the customer, Devin Barnes, in case her followers on Facebook were unable to read his alleged scribbled signature. The Facebook post has since been deleted, though the image of her holding up her cash “award,” along with a link to an upbeat story at The Grio remain.

But this time the customer is fighting back and not just to clear his good name. Barnes is suing the restaurant, a branch of the chain Red Lobster, and Jenkins for $1 million.

Barnes' suit, filed in Williamson County Circuit Court, claims … Jenkins slandered his name and misused his personal information. It alleges that Red Lobster's "willful and malicious ... omissions to act" by not stopping Jenkins from using his name and information "to gain publicity and money" caused lasting damage to [his] reputation.

Barnes denies have written the offensive word. He freely admits that he did not leave a tip but that, he maintains, was because his order was takeout.

A handwriting expert has confirmed from a sample of his writing that a different hand was used to form the letters on the receipt.

On Friday, Red Lobster issued a statement in which they noted that Jenkins had returned to work only after a full investigation into the incident had been conducted. In compliance with the chain’s standard procedure, Jenkins had been suspended with pay while the investigation was underway.

Jenkins has claimed that she wasn’t trying to defame to Barnes — that her interest was only to draw attention to racism. But if that were true, why didn’t she omit his name from her Facebook post?

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