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#1 almarcal

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 02:18 AM

I live in a small town and a regular customer at a chain eat-in restaurant. I had a friend that is a server at this restaurant. My friend and I have become estranged. Before this occurred, I was seeking employment at this restaurant, but I discovered that this ex-friend was turning the manager against me. I went by to speak to management...about my availability for hours changing. I barely got out the words when I was told that I was banned from the restaurant...forever...one other manager chimed-in. As a customer in the restaurant...I hadn't done anything wrong...the only thing I can think of is I had worn an anti-gay bullying tee-shirt. It is a tastefully designed shirt representing a legitimate charity I am a member of. My friend is a bit homophobic...I don't know what personal stuff between us was shared with the managers and staff when he turned on me. I haven't had an incident or had police called on me for anything, so I'm wondering, is it legal to ban me over just hearsay...when I haven't been legally charged with wrong doing both as a customer or personally outside the restaurant concerning my ex-friend?
I know for a fact that after a fight in the restaurant the month before...the company didn't press charges on those customers, but had banned them...supposedly. I had in fact helped one of the managers repair the internet jukebox the next day after the brawl the night before...it had been ripped off the column in the bar area. These people had cause damages, damages which I had helped repair...for a free dinner. I thought I was building a report with one of the managers...in hopes of being hired as a regular employee in the future. I seemed that after my friend that works there as a server, turned on me...things began to go sour for me...and then when I tried to follow-up about my hours of availability with the head manager...I got the brush-off....told I was banned...with other employees backing them up. There had been no incident! The only thing that had happened was...I had passed my friends house and tried to speak when he was at the mailbox...to tell him about my Dad passing away...he had met my dad. He had jumped the gun and told me to leave just as I got the words out...he stopped to say 'he was sorry to hear it,' but then proceeded to beret me personally...yeah I know, some friend. That is all that occurred away from the restaurant mind you...prior to being told I was banned from the restaurant. I don't know what was said...he could've told them anything...once he turned on me... I was toast!
Please advise me?
Is this legal for the acting manager to do? She seems to be doing this on his behalf. I don't want any trouble with anyone...but I don't want my civil rights violated either.

#2 doucar

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 02:36 AM

Most businesses reseve the right to refuse service to anyone. So long as it is not for a reason prohibited by law, race, sex, national origin, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, so refusing service is not a violation of civil rights. However, each state has a procedure to do it. Since you didn't post your state, I cannot comment on whether it was done properly or not

#3 Tax_Counsel

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 07:10 AM

Is this legal for the acting manager to do? She seems to be doing this on his behalf. I don't want any trouble with anyone...but I don't want my civil rights violated either.


In general, a private business may refuse to serve anyone and a private landowner/tenant may eject anyone from his property. Under federal law, however, it illegal for a business to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, or disability. (Note that the characteristics covered for anti-discrimination laws for places of public accommodation are less extensive than in the laws barring discrimination in employment.) Some states and localities protect additional characteristics, like sex, sexual orientation, etc. Your post suggests that the main reason the restauarant doesn’t want you there is because management doesn’t like you as a result of whatever your so called friend has told them. That’s not illegal. You also raised the possibility that the management didn’t like your pro-gay rights position. In general, that’s not illegal discrimination either. It is not the same thing as discriminating against you because of actually being gay (which is only illegal in a few places in the U.S. right now anyway.)

#4 FindLaw_Amir

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 09:42 AM

What state did this ban occur in?
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#5 adjusterjack

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 06:28 AM

What state did this ban occur in?


You wouldn't have to waste your time asking that question if this site was set up to get state information when poster's register and then insert it under the avatar. Likely a simple software tweak.

Warning: Legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here are simplified and might not fully explain the ramifications of your particular issue. I am not a lawyer. I do not give legal advice. I make comments based on my knowledge and experience. I guarantee nothing. If you act on my comments without the advice of an attorney, you do so at your own risk.


#6 disabled4life

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 09:17 AM

Unfortunately I dont have any legal information, but common sense tells me that if a business bans you they would be required to tell you why. Once you knew why, you could then proceed legally if you deemed it necessary. It seems the only way you would find out what their reasoning was was if you went to the restaurant and they called the police to have you removed. Once the police got there, a police report would be created, and I am sure the police would need to find out what you were doing or why they were banning you from the restaurant. If you want any legal recourse, it seems a paper trail would need to be created with them stating why you were banned. Whether all of this is worth it or not is up to you. Another idea is a private investigator or someone else to pose as someone you don't know who goes in with you when they attempt to throw you out. This person could then step in and say, 'just curious', why is he not welcome here. Maybe they would blurt something out that would incriminate them. Anyway... all seems highly not worth it.. but if your in a small town and there are no other bars etc... it might be worth it to you etc.

#7 disabled4life

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 09:22 AM

Also in this day and age it seems that many times it depends on the judge. For example if you brought a discrimination suit against them, it would be up to them to provide the actual reason as to why they wouldn't serve you. Maybe you'll get a pro gay rights judge who will favor your cause. My experience is most often who prevails in court depends on the order of the day and whether it has the potential to come to light in the public eye. Maybe contact a gay rights newspaper who would be willing to investigate and work with you to incriminate them. Is it possible that they found your shirt in bad taste and didn't want children etc being exposed to it?

#8 Tax_Counsel

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 10:14 AM

Unfortunately I dont have any legal information, but common sense tells me that if a business bans you they would be required to tell you why.


I’m not sure how “common sense” leads you to such a conclusion. The business would only be required to tell the patron a reason if some law required it. No federal law requires that and no law of any state I’m familiar with requires that, either. As the OP didn’t specify a state, I cannot say for sure that his state doesn’t have such a requirement, but frankly I’d be surprised if did.

It seems the only way you would find out what their reasoning was was if you went to the restaurant and they called the police to have you removed.


If there was a state law that required disclosure of the reason, the OP could proceed to use that law to find out what the reason was; he’d not need to resort to a tactic that might get him charged with trepassing to do it. If there is no requirement under the applicable state law that the business disclose the reason for banning him, then the cops won’t need a reason to eject him from the premises and possibly charge him with trespassing. The basic rule of property law is that the owner or tenant has the right to eject anyone from the premises, and the basic rule in business law is that a business may refuse to serve anyone (other than laws banning illegal discrimination). So, all the cops really need to know is that the business doesn't want him there, he was told to leave, and he’s refusing to leave. The reason why he was told to leave doesn’t really matter.

Also in this day and age it seems that many times it depends on the judge.


To the extent you are suggesting the judge can do whatever the heck he feels like it, you’re wrong. The judge’s decisions must follow the applicable law. Judges that don’t do that find themselves being reversed by the appellate courts.

For example if you brought a discrimination suit against them, it would be up to them to provide the actual reason as to why they wouldn't serve you.


No, it wouldn’t. The burden in these cases is on the person bringing the lawsuit to prove that the defendant engaged in illegal discrimination.

#9 disabled4life

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 10:40 AM

I’m not sure how “common sense” leads you to such a conclusion. The business would only be required to tell the patron a reason if some law required it. No federal law requires that and no law of any state I’m familiar with requires that, either. As the OP didn’t specify a state, I cannot say for sure that his state doesn’t have such a requirement, but frankly I’d be surprised if did.



If there was a state law that required disclosure of the reason, the OP could proceed to use that law to find out what the reason was; he’d not need to resort to a tactic that might get him charged with trepassing to do it. If there is no requirement under the applicable state law that the business disclose the reason for banning him, then the cops won’t need a reason to eject him from the premises and possibly charge him with trespassing. The basic rule of property law is that the owner or tenant has the right to eject anyone from the premises, and the basic rule in business law is that a business may refuse to serve anyone (other than laws banning illegal discrimination). So, all the cops really need to know is that the business doesn't want him there, he was told to leave, and he’s refusing to leave. The reason why he was told to leave doesn’t really matter.



To the extent you are suggesting the judge can do whatever the heck he feels like it, you’re wrong. The judge’s decisions must follow the applicable law. Judges that don’t do that find themselves being reversed by the appellate courts.



No, it wouldn’t. The burden in these cases is on the person bringing the lawsuit to prove that the defendant engaged in illegal discrimination.


Can't disagree with anything you've said... however it seems to me (in my limited experience) that leverage often has alot to do with it. Right, as you say, if the judge is wrong, 'it ends up in appeals court'. Thats IF the plaintiff wishes to continue pursuing the matter. And also you are making a big jump to think that the appeals court panel isn't going to stand by the lower court even if its not right. Everything you've said is right in theory, but its my opinion that its not always how it plays out. If he filed a discrimination suit against the bar claiming that he was discriminated against based on sexual orientation... and this went to court do you really think a judge in today's day and age is not going to ask why he was banned from the restaurant? You could be right in that the restaurant doesn't have to have a reason why, but that just doesn't sound like it would fly in today's world. Judges to me seem to base their decisions more on 1) the emotional resonance it has with them 2) whether they work with the opposing council on a regular basis and 3) the potential for the matter to come to light. They then find various laws and prior decisions that they can interpret this way and that to 'back up' what they themselves have decided. Obviously the issue is not black and white but if it was, there wouldn't be a need for an appeals court. Instead it seems that almost all cases end up with some kind of appeal. My personal experience with judges is that they are complete and total loose cannons and also that they are not afraid to bend laws this way and that if they believe it will further their careers. Yes, they are supposed to be 'guided' by prior decisions and various laws, but it is not difficult for them to carry out decisions based on their own feelings and interpret various laws and statutes to fit within their desires. And after all, if it turns out they're wrong, what penalty or price is there? The case just goes to appeals, like it always does for one reason or another. Right and wrong is not usually a factor in cases like this. Its mostly about careers.

#10 disabled4life

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 12:15 PM

This is how I would see it being played out:

Plaintiff files a discrimination case, its in court:

Judge: Defendant, as you know the plaintiff has claimed that you discriminated against him by banning him from your restaurant based on his sexual orientation. I've read your answer and I see that your client has denied these charges.

Defendant: Yes Your honor.

Judge: I see. *looks up at defendant council* "And why was the plaintiff banned from the restaurant?"

Defendant: "Um... your honor, under state law the defendant does not have to provide a reason.. (and so on)

Judge *interrupts him* Sir, I know what state law says.. *I* am asking the defendant why he barred the plaintiff from the restaurant. If you dont' have an answer I'm going to have to assume that the plaintiff is correct and that he was in fact banned based on his sexual orientation.


After the case outside in front of the reporters:

Defendant council: Oh we will definitely be filing an appeal in this case...


So, as I said, it really depends on what judge you get.

#11 Tax_Counsel

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 04:53 PM

Judges to me seem to base their decisions more on 1) the emotional resonance it has with them 2) whether they work with the opposing council on a regular basis and 3) the potential for the matter to come to light. They then find various laws and prior decisions that they can interpret this way and that to 'back up' what they themselves have decided.

I don’t know what experience you have with judges, but from my experience having clerked for judges, representing clients before judges, and having some judges as friends, this is not what most judges do, and certainly not the good ones. Where the law on an issue is truly unclear and there is more than one reasonable interpretation of it, the judge will be guided by his view of what the right answer should be and apply the interpretation that provides that result. But where the law is clear, the judge follows the law regardless of his/her personal opinion of it. I could point you to a number of Tax Court opinions, for example, in which the court says it sympathizes with the taxpayer, but that the law is clear and it must rule in favor of the government as a result.

This is how I would see it being played out:Plaintiff files a discrimination case, its in court:Judge: Defendant, as you know the plaintiff has claimed that you discriminated against him by banning him from your restaurant based on his sexual orientation. I've read your answer and I see that your client has denied these charges.Defendant: Yes Your honor.Judge: I see. *looks up at defendant council* "And why was the plaintiff banned from the restaurant?"

And in what circumstance is the judge going to ask that question? Remember, it is not a judge that decides the ultimate issue of whether illegal discrimination occurred in most cases; it is a jury. Moreover, in most jurisdictions, it is not illegal for a place of public accommodation to discriminate against persons based on sexual orientation. Unless this occurred in one of the jurisidictions where it is illegal, the complaint would be subject to dismissal from the start because there is no valid cause of action stated in the complaint.

#12 doucar

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 12:08 AM

The case just goes to appeals, like it always does for one reason or another.
I don't know where you got this idea but fewer than 10% of cases are appealed and in many states fewer than 5% get appealed and heard by the appeals court.
I don't know where you get the idea that the judge asks questions. As a former Small claims judge, I got to ask questions because the rules in small claims court permitted it. In most states that I am aware of, In trial courts of record, the judge rarely if ever asks questions. And if they did, the answer could simply be that his friend who works with us told us he was an undesirable patron and that would be enough.




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