Cashier Returns to Longworth Cafeteria Ahead of Planned Boycott

Posted July 25, 2008 at 8:51am

Doris Cherry is back at work.

The veteran House cafeteria cashier, whose suspension earlier this week triggered a massive outcry amongst Capitol Hill staffers, returned to her duties at the Longworth House Office Building this morning.

Her return came just hours after hundreds of House staffers threatened to boycott the Longworth cafeteria in protest.

Restaurant Associates, the vendor in charge of running the House cafeterias, confirmed in a statement that Cherry will be retained, alongside another cafeteria employee also placed on suspension whose name was not immediately known.

“We plan to retain both of the long-term employees that were recently suspended due to the serious violation of our rules and will offer each off them sufficient training opportunities to meet our standards,” the statement reads. “These actions are part of Restaurant Associates’ commitment to the interest of our customer, our employees, and our own interest in hiring and retaining the best customer service team in the foodservice industry.”

Cherry was placed on suspension Wednesday after she was found to be short at her cash register. According to one knowledgeable House source, she had been short on a few occasions, totalling near $30.

She has worked at the Longworth cafeteria for more than 30 years, nearly two decades as a cashier. In 2004, she was named Employee of the Year by Guest Services, the vendor who oversaw the cafeteria at the time.

In its statement, Restaurant Associates defended its decision to suspend Cherry.

“One of the most difficult things that an employer does is to have to issue disciplinary action to an employee,” the statement reads. “This is especially difficult with an employee of longstanding service. The only reason an employer does this is in order meet their obligations to their clients and customers to be able to provide the level of service expected.”

The suspension triggered angry protests from House staffers, who united in a rare sign of bipartisanship to urge Cherry’s reinstatement. Hundreds circulated an e-mail Thursday afternoon urging staffers to boycott the Longworth cafeteria on Tuesday.

“This has outraged many of us who have seen her virtually every day for years,” the e-mail reads. “She is certainly one of the most beloved cafeteria workers and her dedication to customer service is exceptional.”

Other staffers created an online petition urging Cherry’s reinstatement, and dozens planned to boycott all House cafeterias, since Restaurant Associates oversees them.