“We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone”
Simple enough, right? The eternal rule posted in nearly every restaurant means that the establishment can refuse service to anyone they want, regardless of reason.
Barrett Greene and Thomas Eng were looking for a location for their wedding reception. Amber Village seemed like a lovely location with plenty of feng shui. The manager, Tommy Ho, took the couple’s $750 deposit on their American Express card. Shortly thereafter, a senior manager, Mr. Fong, allegedly told Ho that “gay partyers are especially bad for feng shui,” reports the Daily News.
The couple first had their reservation switched to another location, then had it cancelled completely. Their deposit still hasn't been returned.
So, according to the report, the man known only as Mr. Fong doesn't want "gay partyers" in his establishment. That's his choice, right? It should be as simple as refunding the couple's deposit, right?
No, and not exactly. And before you object, imagine what would happen if the couple were black. Would a refusal in that instance be legal?
Under New York State Law, discrimination on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, marital status, or disability in places of public accommodation, the definition of which includes restaurants, is illegal. The right to receive service is a civil right that is recognized by the state.
So no, restaurants cannot refuse service to lesbians, Caucasians, Marines, or unmarried women in wheelchairs. There are, of course, exceptions. Small private establishments that are not generally open to the public, such as country clubs, can bar whomever they please. Restaurants, however, do not have such discretion, even if the couple might not vibe with the feng shui.
- Consult a New York Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
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