Alois Bell, “heart-broken” pastor, learns how hard social justice can be.

ST. LOIS: Alois Bell, a pastor for what some call a “strip mall church,” is learning that she should practice what she preaches, and that Social Media justice can be Hell on earth.

First the story, then the soap box…

Ms. Bell, pastor of the Truth in the World Deliverance Ministries of St. Louis, ate out at a nearby Applebees and left a scathing note for the waitress indicating NO tip.  Chelsea Welch, another waitress, saw the receipt and snapped a pic to upload to the web.  Her post became a viral hit and she was fired after the pastor placed a phone call and demanded all workers in the Applebees that night be fired.  Applebees fired Ms. Welch in short order and apologized to Ms. Bell, leaving many people on the web infuriated.

See the photo gallery below for pictures posted publicly on the Internet.

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Now, the soap box:

  1. The pastor needs to truly FEEL humiliation and pain until she gets it through to her heart that calling for the loss of someone’s job is downright NASTY!
  2. The waitress needs to consider a lawsuit.  Seriously.  An employer that is complicit with the mean, petty, and malicious demands of a customer needs to PAY.  Period.
  3. Oh, and malice?  Can we say ‘treble damages?’ Yep, juries have awarded about 10 times the damages prayed for in one libel / slander suit in Georgia.  And this also works with the concept of social justice.  The more atrocious the behavior, the nastier the flak.
  4. Ms. Bell needs to step down from the pulpit if she cannot stop damaging the efforts of OTHER preachers.  Her deed destroyed the reputations of other churches.
  5. Some churches should be taxed like any other business – Ms. Bell’s actions ride right along with the same vexatious actions of the Westboro Baptists, IMHO.
  6. If you have a case like Ms. Cheslea Welch’s case, read on for some resources.
  7. One thing most people are *never* told – the Statute of Limitations for filing charges or complaints or lawsuits is depressingly short.  The time to get an attorney in on ANY potential litigation is *before* any jobs are lost and complaints are lodged at work. If I were Ms. Welch, I would have contacted attorneys as soon as the post started to go viral.
  8. LEGAL TRAP: “Employment Law” lawyers tend to work for employers only, so be sure to ASK – “Do you represent employees who sue their employers?”  It might take as long as six months to find an attorney who is not up to his or her eyeballs in case work.  The best attorneys out there are also the busiest attorneys 🙂

The National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, is one place where an employee could file a complaint for punishment received for “Protected Concerted Activity.”

The question as to whether Ms. Welch’s First Amendment rights were violated (since she was essentially punished for exercising her right to “freedom of the press” and “freedom of speech”) should be answered by an attorney – hopefully she’ll start seeking one!

In civil litigation (and, let’s be REAL clear, I am NOT a lawyer and this is not legal advice), people have received up to treble damages for actions that were found to have been done with “malice aforethought,” or just “malice,” as it’s called.  Is the pastor worth suing?

Here are links from  around the web, and the comments range from hilarious to scathing; VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED – some comments are NOT FOR KIDS!

  1. This Fox News page includes a featured interview with Alois Bell’s reaction:
    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/02/01/waitress-fired-after-posting-receipt-showing-pastor-complaint-about-tip/
  2. Reddit – here is a spin-off post – (this contains some pretty nasty comments): http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/17n1s4/applebees_fires_redditor_waitress_for_exposing/
  3. YouTube – here is the pastor herself at the pulpit – (warning: racist trolls in comments).
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU9a2OvCwBo
  4. Fox 4 posted a story AND a link to an interview from another Fox channel:
    http://fox4kc.com/2013/01/31/pastor-responds-after-being-called-out-for-snide-comment-on-receipt/
  5. The Blaze posted a pretty scathing report:
    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/01/31/i-give-god-10-tip-story-takes-intersting-twister-pastor-revealed-and-the-waitress-has-been-fired/
  6. Even the Black Preaching Network got in on the fray – with a dedicated shame post:
    http://abcpreachers.ning.com/profile/PastorAloisBellisADisgrace
  7. The Smoking Gun also posted a very good story:
    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/tipping-pastor-apologizes-687234
  8. RT also posted some more information and details not in some other stories:
    http://rt.com/usa/news/god-tips-waitress-applebees-272/

A FaceBook page to support the re-hiring of Chelsea Welch was started on January 31st.  Go here for more information: https://www.facebook.com/HireBackChelsea/info

Applebees staff apologized to the pastor for the alleged violation of her privacy rights.  The First Amendment rights of Chelsea Bell, however, should have been considered.  Here are the URLs for a few lawyers that handle First Amendment claims:

  1. Cynthia Counts – Atlanta, Georgia – The Counts Law Group:
    http://www.lawcounts.com
  2. Gerry Weber – Atlanta, Georgia – Gerry Weber Law Offices
    http://www.constitutional-litigation.com/
  3. Eric P. Robinson – NYC, New York – Internet / Media Law professor & lawyer
    http://www.bloglawonline.com/

This post does not contain any legal advice, please consult a lawyer for legal advice.  Chelsea Welch should be encouraged to consider suing Applebees for the firing, IMHO.

Your voice counts – what do YOU have to say?
(And thank you for sharing this post if you do.)
~ Amy Barnes

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About Amy Barnes

Author has extensive experience in Retail, including two years as a supervisor. Educated in Psychology, Financial Accounting, Criminal Justice, and Programming. Work experience in Law Enforcement, Security (IT), Programming (REALBasic, SQL, VB, JAVA), Retail.
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1 Response to Alois Bell, “heart-broken” pastor, learns how hard social justice can be.

  1. i strongly doubt that she would have a case based on protected concerted activity. the picture, and the upload in particular, would create the intent of whether this issue would meet the merit of a protected activity like discussing the work environment; but typically that nexus is created by something the employer has done. because the customer isn’t an agent or representative of the employer, the only shot in hell that she would have would be something along the lines of wanting to discuss the particulars of her work environment with her coworkers. to do that, she would need to show some sort of cause that the site she used to upload it to was a central hub of activity between her and other employees of the same worksite.

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