Last week a waitress was fired form her job in Applebee´s, for posting a bill image on, an open source online community to share and vote on content. The image spoke by itself; the bill had a written statement about service tips, which the restaurant franchise suggested in 18%. Alois Bell, a catholic pastor, was the customer who wrote a note in the following terms: “I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?”, her signature was also visible in the bill.

Social media communities reacted as it went public that the employee, Chelsea Welch was fired. Opinions were divided, some argued about high tips, others about selfish customers, but even more people expressed disappointment about Applebee´s HR decision. Several people posted claims to give back the waitress job.

Ultimately, the whole situation became a public relationships issue for the company. Fair o not, the customers name temporarily appear in the image and that is a high price that Applebee´s was not willing to pay. The company responded in Facebook with an explanation.

Alexandra Samuels, a HBR blogger, posted five ideas to avoid companies from being exposed in social media, as a consequence of their HR policies and internal process visibility. Did Applebee´s go too far? The controversy is still open.

By Diana Hdz