Racism is on the menu at The Cheesecake Factory, said three Black women who visited a restaurant location in California. The women were denied service and treated like second-class citizens because they are Black, they said in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Friday (June 29).
The #DiningWhileBlack incident happened last July at a Redondo Beach location where a White male server allegedly refused to wait on Latonia Whyte, Kimberly Jones and Lucy Ngaujah, NBC Bay Area reported. The server also referred to them as “you people,” and a white female manager said “you are nobody,” according to the women. The manager threatened to sue them for filming non-Black customers being served after they were refused service, they claimed in the suit. The discrimination was in clear violation of their civil rights and has caused the friends emotional distress — a sentiment expressed by several other people of color who have sued high-profile restaurants over racial profiling.
Randy Freeman, 57, an Air Force veteran who was thrown out of a Cracker Barrel in Cross Lanes, West Virginia in April after he only sat down to order food, filed a federal suit against that restaurant for damages. Whyte, Jones and Ngaujah, like Freeman, have also sued over damages.
The trio visited the restaurant on July 1 of last year to celebrate Jones’ birthday, but were denied service by the white server about 20 minutes after being seated, the complaint alleged. Whyte and Ngaujah, who arrived at the restaurant before Jones, couldn’t believe the waiter’s attitude. They said the man told them “I’m not serving you people” and that he couldn’t take orders because computers would be down for 17 to 20 hours.
Once Jones arrived, the trio saw White customers seated next to them receiving service. The waiter gave the women a cold shoulder, offering only cold soup to them and refusing to serve anything else, they said. The man even admitted to treating them differently because of their skin color, the women added.
The female manager who heard the women’s grievances was dismissive, demanding that Ngaujah turn over her cell phone for taking images of White customers receiving service.
The women got some sort of relief when a Black server waited on them at Cheesecake Factory before they left and paid their bill. They also had a chance to share their story via the lawsuit.
In a statement, the Cheesecake Factory denied the allegations and said it doesn’t tolerate discrimination in its locations.