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Black Woman Says She Was Asked To Give Up Seat To White Men At Restaurant: ‘I Was Racially Profiled’

Her lawyer believes that restaurant management failed to protect his clients from the people who were “hurling racist insults.”

By Mahira Dayal, Yahoo Lifestyle

An African American woman wants restaurant employees terminated after they allegedly instructed her to give up her seat for a white man, and then refused her service. She claims they discriminated against her and violated her fundamental civil rights.

On Monday, just four days after the alleged incident, Lia Gant revisited the place in question — a J. Alexander’s restaurant in West Bloomfield, Mich. Joining her this time, for a press conference, was her lawyer, Maurice Davis, and another patron, Jerrick Jackson, who says he suffered a similar but unrelated experience there.

Gant recounted her story, alleging that the white bartender not only refused to serve her but also took away her drink and dumped it down the drain. When Gant went to the manager for assistance, she said she was told that she shouldn’t be upset, “because the drink was not thrown on me.”

Neither the police department nor J. Alexander immediately responded to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.

But the trio is determined to make sure the employees in question face consequences for their alleged actions.

“This type of behavior is archaic racism, reminiscent of the Black men and women of the 1950s,” Davis said in the press conference. “Our civil rights leaders fought for over a century to secure and preserve Black citizens’ right to have a seat at the table, and we refuse to backslide to a nation where Black people are told to give up their seat to white people.”

Gant continued to describe how the situation only escalated further after her drink was thrown away, with another customer of color standing up to support her, prompting a white patron to throw food at him and allegedly call him “the n-word.” In response, Gant alleged, management “called the cops” on the Black patron.

Davis believes that restaurant management failed to protect his clients from the people who were “hurling racist insults.” He tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “J. Alexander refuses to take corporate responsibility for its employees’ actions and has not reached out to counsel.”

J. Alexander’s has issued the following statement:

Since opening our doors in West Bloomfield more than 21 years ago, J. Alexander’s Restaurant has offered the highest quality food and professional service in a safe, respectful and welcoming environment. We have always adhered to a strict non-discrimination policy for all our restaurant staff and guests to ensure the best possible working and dining environment. This includes treating every customer with the same non-discriminatory service. We do not tolerate any diversion from this policy and likewise do not tolerate any inappropriate behavior from either guests or employees.

On June 20, our staff and many of our guests experienced an unfortunate incident that disrupted the otherwise pleasant dining environment in our West Bloomfield restaurant. Our staff made every responsible effort to safely diffuse this incident in the face of profanity and acts of misbehavior directed at them. None of our employees used profanity, made racial remarks or threw food but certain guests did. Ironically, two of those guests involved in this incident have falsely accused our staff of racial discrimination.

The West Bloomfield police were called in during this incident to assist with the unruly behavior of certain guests. Any guest who threw food or was otherwise disruptive was asked to leave. Working with police, our staff made certain that every guest left the restaurant through the front door of the restaurant. We have turned the security surveillance video over to the West Bloomfield police. We will remain in close contact with the police department as we await a report on their investigation and their determination as to whether any formal charges related to this behavior are warranted.

We are grateful to have been a part of West Bloomfield for more than two decades, and we look forward to continuing to serve our guests with a pleasant dining experience.

Davis tells Yahoo Lifestyle that his client will not be suing at this time, and that they are instead focused on obtaining justice and ensuring that this doesn’t happen to anyone else. “Right now our primary focus is demanding the immediate termination of the J. Alexander employee that refused to serve our client,” he says.

Gant posted about the incident on Facebook and shared videos of her being ushered out of the restaurant by a white woman and of a man throwing food.

Comments on the post point that the situation was unacceptable.

“This is disgusting. I am in the business and would never let anything like this happen. I’m never stepping foot in that place again,” one person commented.

Davis and Jackson both commended West Bloomfield Police for their response and attention in deescalating the situation.

According to a statement provided to WXYZ Detroit from J. Alexander, the restaurant has “turned the security surveillance video over to the West Bloomfield police and “await a report on their investigation and their determination as to whether any formal charges related to this behavior are warranted.” And the police, according to Davis, have identified a suspect and assigned a detective to the case.

This article appeared in the Huffington Post via Yahoo Lifestyle.

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