Restaurant under fire for telling employee she would be fired for attending funeral

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The owners of a Mercer County restaurant have faced sharp criticism from the public after text messages from one of the owners telling an employee that she would be fired for attending a friend’s funeral went viral.

Screenshots of the conversation sent to News 12 New Jersey showed the employee asking a Café 72 co-owner and manager known as “Katie” if another employee was trained well enough to cover her shift so that she could attend a funeral. The funeral was for the 20-year-old College of New Jersey student Michael Sot who was recently killed in a crash that also injured seven others.

“Katie” told the employee that the other employee was not trained well enough to handle things on her own. She then said that “if you can’t work and there is no one [to] cover the shift…I have to let you go. Sorry. I don't feel bad for you..."

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“Katie” also said, “I like you, but I’m sick of all staff not taking their job seriously and just [expletive” expect me to cover all of your shifts.”

The screenshots of the conversation were posted on social media and went viral. Café 72 received hundreds of negative comments on social media and negative reviews on websites like Yelp. 

Café 72 owner and operator known as “Ben” posted a statement on the restaurant’s website and Facebook page explaining their side of the story.

“Ben” says that the employee was not fired and said that her last shifts were last weekend before the TCNJ winter break. He also apologized for “Katie’s” actions. “Katie” is “Ben’s” wife, according to the statement.

“We carelessly let the stresses of family and business replace the professionalism, respect and empathy that every employee and person deserves. We have received countless hate emails, bad reviews and threatening phone calls and ask that they STOP,” the statement said in part.

“Ben” said that Café 72 would also donate $1,000 to Sot’s GoFundMe Page and that 10 percent of sales from the remainder of this week will also be donated in his honor.

The Café 72 Facebook page and Instagram account were eventually taken down due to the amount of comments.

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