A black customer that had been forced to prepay his meal has sued the restaurant, citing discrimination, it has recently been reported.
On December 16, 2014, Brian Eason had ordered breakfast and a Bloody Mary at an eatery which is part of the Elmer’s chain, and located at 7105 NE 40th Street, in Vancouver, Washington.
The man, who serves as a real estate agent and as the sheriff’s deputy in Multnomah County, Oregon, had been planning to have his meal in peace, while composing Christmas cards for his clients.
He was outraged when he was required to pay in advance, and, when he asked why he was being forced to do this, the waitress replied she was simply following instructions from the restaurant owner.
She also revealed that there had been cases when customers seated in the lounge area had left without paying, so the diner has taken this extra security measure.
Eason complied with this request, and paid for his meal before serving it, but when he tried to order another drink he was yet again told he had to prepay it.
This time, the attendant apologized profusely for having the customer go through this process, and confessed that she believed it was an instance of racial discrimination.
The man accepted her apologies and prepaid once more reluctantly, and after he finished his breakfast he even tipped the waitress and gave her a a $10 Starbucks gift card.
Eventually he left the establishment, but then decided to return and find out if white customers from the lounge had also been asked to pay in advance. He soon discovered that no such obligation had been presented to them.
As a result, the disgruntled client initially filed a complaint with the Washington State Human Rights Commission in January, but due to insufficient evidence no justice was served at the time.
Two weeks after being informed of the investigator’s decision, Eason filed a suit against the Pacific Northwest chain of diners, and against franchise owner Sandra Lewis.
According to the plaintiff, the reason why he was told to pay upfront, before dining, was linked to his skin color, just like the restaurant’s waitress admitted at the time.
Therefore, the litigation, which was filed on Tuesday October 27 in the Multnomah County Circuit Court, should be treated as a case of discrimination.
Eason is seeking $100,000 in damages from the Portland-based company, since this unpleasant incident has caused him “loss of sleep and feelings of racial stigmatization”.
In response to these claims, Jill Ramos, Elmer’s director of restaurant support, insists that there is no such policy across the 25 restaurants in the chain, forcing customers to pay in advance. Therefore, the franchise was summoned to discontinue this practice immediately.
Meanwhile, Elmer’s representatives have declared they are currently investigating the matter, and that they have no comments to make regarding the pending lawsuit.
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