Belmar Dairy Queen fires injured teen in brutal, ice-cold text message
BELMAR — The owner of a local Dairy Queen has apologized after his brother, the manager, fired a teenage worker who couldn't work because of an injured ankle.
Adding insult to injury, Konstantine Menegatos terminated the high school girl in a profanity-laced text message tirade, telling her that she was "irresponsible, childish and you will not last in the real world."
The 15-year-old's mother, shared the text messages on Facebook, garnering hundreds of comments — many sympathetic to the girl. But some people faulted the teen, which left her mother dismayed.
"What he said is wrong. A lot of people are missing the point," Faith Ann Rogers said in an interview with New Jersey 101.5. "That’s harmful. You should not speak to any human that way."
Rogers said her daughter came home Monday with a swollen foot that she could barely move after injuring it while cheerleading. She encouraged her daughter to call out sick the next day because her job at Dairy Queen requires her stand and scoop ice cream from 4 to 10 p.m. The workers don't get paid sick days.
The teen texted her boss that evening to let him know that she might not be able to make it the next afternoon. He asked her to find someone who could take her place.
But when the girl later responded that she could not find a co-worker to take her shift, Menegatos erupted.
"I do not have time for bulls*** texts," he writes, saying that she and her colleagues “just plainly do not give a f***.”
Rogers says she doesn't baby her children; she raises them "to be productive, young adults" — and that includes finding part-time jobs during the school year.
Rogers says she also worked as a youngster, and she admired her tough bosses as role models. But, she says, Menegatos crossed the line.
"It’s kind of like bullying. He was being mean to get what he wanted out of it and that’s wrong," she said.
"Why do people think it’s OK? People are just programed to take it, I guess, because you want to keep your job."
Menegatos's brother, Gerry, responded to a request for comment by saying that he had reached out to the family to "resolve the misunderstanding."
Rogers said Gerry is trying to pass off his brother as a lowly employee, telling the family that "he has been removed from running all daily operations at Belmar Dairy Queen." Konstantine's LinkedIn profile, however, identifies him as a co-owner and manager of the Belmar and Rutherford shops. A spokesman for Dairy Queen confirmed that the two are brothers.
Rogers has advice for the franchise: "Stop treating your workers like crap."
"Hopefully he won't handle anybody else's kids," she said.
Her daughter, meanwhile, is on the hunt for a new job.
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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.