No one wants to be verbally attacked, at a restaurant or anywhere. But that's what happened last year at a Denny's location in Pasadena, Calif. According to Pasadena News Now, an African-American customer has sued the diner chain claiming her Denny's waitress called her a "black bitch" for attempting to pay for her meal with a large bill.
32-year-old April Hines said the issue began way before the insulting words were uttered. In fact, Hines alleges that when she dined at Denny's on September 30 of last year, she was completely ignored by the waitress, while the white members of her party were given attentive service.
Apparently things got worse when Hines attempted to pay for her portion of the meal with a large bill. Hines says the waitress refused her payment and went as far as to ask the other members of the group why they associated with Hines. Eventually, Hines claims the server called her a "black bitch" before calling the police to come arrest her. However, when the police arrived on the scene, they refused to arrest Hines.
Hines explains her motivation to press charges, "I really feel that I was discriminated against due to my race. I was with ten other co-workers. I left there embarrassed and hurt and didn't understand why all of that happened. I don't want to see anyone else treated like that." Her lawyer, Jonathan Kaplan, defended his client's claims, "This is just another outrageous incident of discrimination perpetrated by Denny's and its employees upon African-American customers. Until a jury makes Denny's pay, they will continue to treat people this way."
Denny's has responded with an official statement:
We are aware of the lawsuit that was recently filed in the Superior Court of the State of California, in the County of Los Angeles. We vigorously deny the claims made in the suit. At Denny's, we do not tolerate any acts of discrimination and take any claims to the contrary very seriously. Based on our preliminary findings, these claims are unfounded. This is the same Plaintiff's attorney who previously tried a case of a similar nature, ending with his clients dismissing the case and stating that they do not believe Denny's is a company that tolerates discrimination by its employees. We are prepared to try the case in court.
Unfortunately, racial and sexual discrimination is still rampant throughout the U.S. In the restaurant world, plaintiffs tend to be ex-employees. In August, Steak 'n Shake was sued by a former employee who alleged he was harassed, intimidated, and abused at work due to his race. Just a couple of months prior, a McDonald's employee sued the company after claiming she was discriminated against and fired for being gay. One case of racial discrimination against McDonald's even resulted in a federal civil rights lawsuit backed by the NAACP.
Update 3/16 5:20 p.m.: This post was updated to include a statement from Denny's.