CLERMONT, Fla., Nov. 24 (UPI) -- A Florida restaurant is coming under fire after the newly-hired general manager fired 13 employees with a group text message.
Former servers at Lilly's on the Lake in Clermont said they received a text message Friday informing them that they were being fired from the restaurant.
The message read:
"Hello Everyone, As you know we are making some changes and moving in a new direction in the restaurant and because of that we have decided to move on without you. We appreciate the opportunity to work with you and all of your hard work. Please feel free to use us as a reference. Unfortunately we were unable to call and speak with each one of you individually but we hope you all understand the decision we have made. We wish you the best of luck in the future. The Management Team."
"I was torn up, I have rent to pay, I have 2 kids to take care of," one of the fired servers, Elizabeth Peters, told WKMG-TV. "I think it's wrong. It's unprofessional. If someone's going to fire you they need to call you in and let you know what you did wrong. I don't even know what I did wrong."
Peters said she had been working at the restaurant since it opened during the summer.
Brad Barrett took over as general manager at Lilly's last week and has been charged with turning around the restaurant's reputation, which has taken several hits as a result of online complaints about cold food and poor service.
Barrett defended the decision to fire the workers via text.
"The story is we're at a point where we have excess amount of employees, we tried to do the right thing and let those employees go," Barrett said. "They created a scene and we had to ask them to leave. They wouldn't leave, they made threats of violence and so forth so after that we decided maybe the best decision was to send a text message to the rest of the staff that we were letting go to prevent any further altercation in the dining room and with the customers."
Barrett said the restaurant was unable to give the workers prior notice of their termination.
"People get fired from restaurants all the time. We still have a business to run whether it's during the holiday season but out of the 13 people those are the ones that created a scene in the restaurant," he said. "We felt we were trying to do the best for the business, the customers, and the employees. The one employee says she has no gas so why should I ask her to spend her money driving down here from Orlando just to let her go and then have her drive back? So we tried to do the best we could. We called people, they didn't answer, so we had to send a text message out."