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Bars Can Legally Refuse to Serve People in MAGA Hats

Choosing to support Donald Trump is not protected under religious discrimination laws

A person in a skeleton costume wearing a MAGA hat Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Bar owners, managers, and tenders across America are allowed to refuse service to individuals in “Make America Great Again” hats. That’s what Manhattan Supreme Court Justice David Cohen ruled Wednesday when he dismissed a lawsuit filed by a man who was ejected from a New York City watering hole because of his MAGA headwear, reports the New York Post.

Greg Piatek, an accountant from Philadelphia, filed the lawsuit in the Manhattan Supreme Court a couple of months after Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States last year. Piatek claimed he and a few bros had been visiting the 9/11 Memorial and decided to grab drinks at a bar called The Happiest Hour. After initially serving the group, bar staff took issue with Piatek’s hat, which was made famous by Trump, and declared he and his friends were not welcome at the establishment.

Piatek’s attorneys claimed in court Wednesday the denial was a form of religious discrimination because their client had been “paying spiritual tribute to the victims of 9/11.” Refusing to remove his hat was Piatek’s way of holding true to “his spiritual belief.”

In throwing out the lawsuit, Cohen determined that supporting Trump is not, actually, a form of religion. “Plaintiff does not state any faith-based principle to which the hat relates,” the justice said, per the Post. Instead, Piatek’s removal from The Happiest Hour was simply a “petty” slight, and pettiness is not against the law.

“At The Happiest Hour we firmly support women’s rights, marriage equality, gun control, the environment, and regard for the truth — we don’t discriminate,” owner Jon Neidich tells Eater. “What’s gotten lost in this story is that the guest wasn’t kicked out because he was wearing a Trump hat — he was asked to leave after being verbally abusive to our staff, which is something we don’t tolerate regardless of who you are. And this is after he spent almost $200. The 20 percent tip he left would seem to indicate he was satisfied with the service he received.”

Update: April 27, 2018, 1:57 p.m.
This article was updated to include comments from The Happiest Hour owner Jon Neidich.

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