Fact Check

Did a Restaurant Customer Leave an Anti-Immigration Note in Lieu of a Tip?

Social media controversy erupted over a diner who purportedly stiffed his waitress and mocked her for being an immigrant.

Published Nov 20, 2015

 A restaurant customer named Jason Naglich wrote "Tip for U.S. Citizens Only" on his bill and stiffed his waitress.

In November 2015, a photograph began circulating online via sites such Imgur and Facebook showing a restaurant bill from a customer who purportedly stiffed his waitress and mocked her for being an immigrant:

gina darling

The identity of the original friend of a friend who posted the image wasn't clear, but a FoxNews.com article provided some additional information about the circumstances under which the controversy began:

After serving a customer at Bamboo Thai Bistro in Redondo Beach, Calif., an Asian waitress received a short note scribbled on the receipt instead of a tip, according to NBC Los Angeles.

It read, “Tip for U.S. citizens only."

The server is from Thailand and in the U.S. legally on a visa with the hope of obtaining a green card one day.

According to NBC, on Nov. 11 a male diner paid for his meal of kung pao spaghetti that totaled $22.84 --which would have meant the server got $3.43.  But after discovering the nasty note, it's believed another diner snapped a photo of the receipt, which included the man's name--and posted it online.

An earlier report from Los Angeles television station KNBC included a brief video segment about the ensuing controversy:

Despite massive social media interest in the receipt and its unpleasant message, the man whose name appeared on the slip of paper hasn't responded to media requests for his version of events. He's neither confirmed nor denied he left the message, and hasn't e-mailed a response to any of the several media outlets covering the viral controversy. Although KNBC included CCTV footage of the man purportedly entering Bamboo Thai Bistro in Redondo Beach, California, on 11 November 2015, that clip didn't definitively indicate he signed a receipt (much less left a rude, anti-immigrant message on a piece of paper which included his full legal name).

report from the Daily Breeze of Los Angeles County's South Bay left it unclear whether the man was a take-out customer or a diner who was waited upon by the server:

A 15 percent tip would have been $3.43, but the male customer wrote “Tip for U.S. Citizens Only” on the tip line for his $22.84 receipt for kung pao spaghetti.

“It was really bizarre,” said the owner, who asked to be identified only as Adison. “She thought she did something wrong. She is one of the best workers here.”

The man ordered his food and got up and left.

“I went outside to go do something and, when I came back in, my waitresses were showing me the receipt,” Adison said. “This guy left this.”

Searches for Jason Naglich restricted to a few days before the 11 November 2015 date supplied by the restaurant revealed he had no Internet presence of which to speak. How a fellow customer who was not party to the transaction came to view the receipt (as the restaurant claimed) was unclear. The restaurant's owner later said he feared litigation as a result of the controversy.

So while the story has drawn massive interest from across the country, little about Naglich and the purported receipt (beyond the original assertion) has been confirmed. It's possible that a diner by that name chose to add insult to injury by stiffing his waitress and blaming it on her immigrant status. It's similarly possible that as with prior claims of this variety, someone somewhere along the line fabricated the slip's message. However, diners swept up in previous hoaxes have quickly spoken up to correct the story once it came to their attention, whereas Naglich has yet to address the rumor.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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