Kelsy Wallace, a teenage Chili’s hostess from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, says she was attacked by a group of customers after she attempted to follow COVID-19 regulations at her workplace. The 17-year-old says that on August 9, she informed a group of at least 11 women that they couldn’t all sit together due to Chili’s social distancing policy and the situation quickly deteriorated.
According to the restaurant’s policy, Wallace explained to WAFB9, table sizes are limited to six people. “My general manager and my other managers tell us we cannot sit a table bigger than six because of the corona[virus]. We are supposed to separate them,” Wallace said. “I couldn’t believe, like over two for 25s, and three for 10s, I got attacked,” she continued.
The teenager, who has worked at the Chili’s on Constitution Avenue since June to make some money for her studies, said she doesn’t plan on returning to the restaurant.
The Incident Occurred When a Large Group of Women Came to the Restaurant & Asked to Sit at the Same Table
Wallace told WAFB9 that a group at least 11 women showed up and they became upset when she told them she couldn’t seat them together. She got one of the managers to help her with the situation and told the outlet that she began exchanging words with the group. She said at that point the confrontation became physical but claims that they made the first move.
“One girl come and she just hit me; we just started fighting,” Wallace told the outlet. “And all everybody who they was with just started hitting me, and the lady who pushed me first, she takes the wet floor sign, cocks back, and hits me with it in my eye.” The police department was called, Wallace said, but the women had left the scene by that time.
The teenage hostess went to the hospital and received stitches for a cut above her eye. She said some of her hair had been pulled out and she had a few broken nails.
In a press release, the Baton Rouge Police Department said they have arrested three women in connection with the incident. “Investigators believe that the three are connected in the assault of a female juvenile restaurant employee,” the department said, adding that Anonymous Crime Stoppers tips “played a vital role in the arrests.” The investigation is still ongoing.
The three women arrested are Tammy Dabney, 48, who was charged with aggravated second-degree battery, Rodneka Dabney, 27, and Erica Dabney, 46, both charged with disturbing the peace and simple battery.
Chili’s Issued a Statement in Response to the Incident & Said the Group’s Actions ‘Isn’t Tolerated’
A spokesperson for Chili’s restaurants issued the following statement about the incident:
We care deeply for every ChiliHead and are disappointed by the incident that took place at our Baton Rouge Chili’s on August 9. We do not tolerate violent behavior in our restaurants, and are taking this incident very seriously as the safety and health of our Team Members and Guests is our top priority. Following this unprovoked attack, we immediately provided medical attention to our Team Member and called the local police department who is looking into this situation. We have made several attempts to contact the impacted Team Member and her family since the incident to provide support, but unfortunately have not received any response.
In addition to the above statement, the manager of the Chili’s where the incident took place said the actions of the group aren’t “tolerated” and they hope that there will be a resolution soon.
A GoFundMe Was Started to Raise Money for Wallace to Help Pay for Her Schooling
A fundraiser was started by Wallace’s family to raise money for her education, saying that she is “afraid to return to work.” The fundraiser indicates that Wallace is a “dual enroll rising senior at Broadmoor Senior and Career Technical Education Center” and her goal is to attend medical school. The page raised over $12,000 in just under 24 hours, surpassing its goal.
Wallace’s grandmother Lorrain Byrd told WAFB she was shocked by the group’s actions. “I couldn’t believe they would do or act like that, and then I mean, grown women, to fight a 17-year-old child at her job, who’s trying to work to get her graduation things together so she can go off to college,” she said.