A look at claims of racial bias in US restaurants
Starbucks is only the latest U.S. food chain to come under scrutiny because of the way black people were treated at one of its locations.
Some companies have been accused of systemic racism; others have faced complaints about isolated occurrences. Allegations of discrimination against minorities go back decades and include:
Denny’s, with more than 1,700 restaurants, agreed to pay more than $54 million in a landmark settlement of racial discrimination claims with the Justice Department in 1994.
Thousands of black customers alleged they were refused service, forced to wait longer than white customers or overcharged at Denny’s restaurants nationwide.
The agreement was called the largest settlement ever under federal public accommodation laws. Denny’s promised to treat all customers equally in the future under the settlement, but incidents have continued.
Just last year, the company apologized and workers at a franchise restaurant in Washington state were fired after a group of black young men were forced to wait and then were asked to prepay for food.
Cracker Barrel agreed to pay almost $9 million in 2004 to settle allegations the restaurant chain mistreated black customers and discriminated against black workers.
More than 40 plaintiffs in 16 states alleged black people were denied service, assigned to segregated seating, subjected to racial slurs and served food from the trash. Also, about a dozen employees complained that black workers were segregated from white workers and generally received “back of the house” assignments such as cook and dishwasher.
Also in 2004, the company settled a Justice Department lawsuit in an agreement which included a finding that black customers at many of the country-themed restaurants were treated poorly.
Cracker Barrel has about 650 restaurants in 45 states, according to its website.
IHOP, run by International House of Pancakes LLC, apologized last month after a waitress asked black teenagers to pay upfront for a meal at a restaurant in Auburn, Maine.
The chain, with more than 1,750 locations worldwide, said it had “zero tolerance” for discrimination. IHOP President Darren Rebelez called the episode an “isolated incident” and said the restaurant was reaching out to the teenagers to apologize.
Rebelez said “appropriate disciplinary actions” would be taken.
The restaurant manager said there had been problems with teenagers walking out without paying for meals, but that the waitress’ actions were wrong.
Applebee’s apologized, fired workers and closed a restaurant in Independence, Missouri, where two black women said they were falsely accused of not paying for meals in February.
Two women posted a video online showing a restaurant employee, a police officer and a mall security guard confronting them for “dining and dashing” during a previous visit, which the women denied.
The video showed the police officer laughing at one point and waving at the person with the camera. The city said it had reviewed the officer’s conduct but would not comment on the findings.
The Kansas City Star reported it was unclear whether the restaurant closure was directly related to the racial profiling incident because the mall where the Applebee’s was located was scheduled for a foreclosure sale.
Applebee’s has almost 1,970 franchise restaurants.