Man Sues Hooters Over Racial Slur On Receipt

Advice to people at restaurants and stores who have a problem with a customer: Keep it to yourself; wait until you get home and then complain about it to your spouse/roommate/pet canary. But for the love of god, please stop writing those insults down on receipts.

In spite of years of stories about people getting in trouble for insulting a customer via receipt, a man in New York claims that when he picked up his to-go order at his local Hooters, his receipt came complete with a side order of racial slur.

“She gave me a receipt and it said the word ‘Chinx’ on it,” the man tells CBS New York.

Now the man has filed a lawsuit against the restaurant, seeking more than $150,000 in damages.

“The law is very clear, you can hate Asians all you want, but the moment one walks into your place of business, he or she is entitled to equal treatment and protection. That’s been violated here,” explains the customer’s lawyer. “My client threw away his food after he saw the receipt — very disgusted. And ever since then, he did not go back to any national chain store whatsoever. He doesn’t want to go back to Hooters again.”

Hooters tells CBS that it investigated the matter after hearing about the receipt and that the hostess responsible for putting the slur on the receipt resigned when confronted.

“She made a mistake. She was insensitive. For that, the company does not bear responsibility,” a lawyer for the franchisee admits to CBS. “This is just a circumstance where a 20-year-old girl put something unfortunate on a receipt. I don’t see how this is something where we bear liability. I think it’s a frivolous case. I think it’s an attempt to get money from the company where there is no liability and no damage and we intend to fight it.”

The lawyer says he looked back through four months of receipts leading up to the incident and could not find another case where an employee wrote insulting comments about a customer.

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  1. Duffin (Ain't This Kitty Cute?) says:

    Yeah, I’ve got to go with Hooters on this one. Especially if the lawyers went back and couldn’t find any other instances of racial insults, I don’t see how they can be held liable. I mean, the employee in question resigned immediately, so what else could she want? I find it really hard to believe the customers was emotionally scarred by a single word on a piece of paper that it would warrant $150,000…

    • AcctbyDay says:

      Events effect (affect?) people differently. Until you are blatantly discriminated against like this gentlemen I don’t think we can say what is worth that, only a jury can. I can see his point, he goes in and they put that on his receipt. What did they do to his food in the kitchen? What did they do to the drinks he was brought? It may be an extreme sense of paranoia, but I can definitely see where he wouldn’t go anywhere to eat.

      You may live in an area or your social circle may not discriminate, but it is real and has consequences for the people who bear it.

      Do I think Hooters is responsible? No, he should be suing the waitress.

      • bluline says:

        Affect.

      • Velifer says:

        No, this is wildly disproportionate. Because someone calls me a fag, I’m so horribly wounded they should buy me a house? I’d be a real estate magnate by now. What do you expect the jury to award you after I call you a retard, retard?

        • AcctbyDay says:

          I’m not saying I agree with the amount. I said specifically that a jury should decide that. I am saying that I can see where he is coming from, Hooters is not responsible and that he should be suing the waitress.

          I’m going to leave your insult unanswered because it was pointless.

          • Sneeje says:

            No a jury shouldn’t. If name-calling is going to be handled by the courts we might as well give up on jurisprudence altogether.

            I think harm should be clear, convincing, using well-established precedent before a case can proceed.

            • AcctbyDay says:

              IANAL, but if your point carries the judge will dismiss the case before it hits the jury correct?

              It wasn’t just “name calling” though I agree with how small the infraction is. She used a racial slur while providing him service in a business. My opinion is that she did something wrong according to the law. Unfortunately the only way to enforce any kind of consequence on the waitress is to go to court. That is what the courts are there for.

              • Sneeje says:

                Wait you’re suggesting she did something criminal? You do remember the first amendment, right? That means I can spout whatever racial slurs I wish (name-calling) without restraint from the government.

                This, however, is a civil case where the goal is to resolve and determine the wrongs between to parties. For there to be something to resolve, there must be harm. So I’m suggesting the civil judge should throw out any case where harm is unclear or in fact clear that it is not significant.

                The woman lost her job. What more is necessary to make someone whole when called a racial slur? How about when someone gets called a dick? or kids call each other horrible things?

                • AcctbyDay says:

                  I never said criminal, I should have made clear that I believe it is a civil tort.

                  • Sneeje says:

                    Ok, that makes more sense. I guess we just disagree about the scope of harm. To me, it is name-calling and no matter how disgusting the name, not worthy of harm that a court should consider.

                    • RogueStomper says:

                      Just a “what if…?” i’ve just read enough comments where i now want to add to the discussion…

                      What if… your wife, mother, etc… gets a receipt from anywhere and it says “fucking cunt” or something else completely inappropriate? Would you be satisfied with only the offending employee losing their job?

                      What if… it was something like I stated above and it was given to your kids? (Not necessarily a restaurant. Or Hooters, for that matter!)

                    • RogueStomper says:

                      aargh.. that was supposed to go to the top of the comment pile… not under yours Sneeje

          • Velifer says:

            The insult was a cleverly crafted rhetorical device to point out the flaws in your position. Asians called “chink,” LGTBBQ called “fag,” people on the internet called “retard.” Tiresome and uninspired slurs with dull barbs. If Americans needed the courts upon each utterance, we’d do nothing else with our time but sit on juries.

        • fleef says:

          hahaa awesome.

        • Jawaka says:

          Tops she should get is her meal paid for.

      • Duffin (Ain't This Kitty Cute?) says:

        Uh, pretty sure being gay gives me insight into being discriminated against. I’ve been called every name in the book, but I didn’t go suing them for it. If you’re paranoid after seeing one word on your receipt, you’ve got other issues. If he was really upset, why not demand to speak to the manager or demand a refund? Why simply throw the food away? That’s not a rational response. Personally, I don’t feel he should even be allowed to sue the waitress. I’m sick of this country being litigation-central. People need not to stop letting “sue!” be the first thing that pops into their heads when something negative happens to them.

        • AcctbyDay says:

          There is no way I could have known you are gay, so your outrage makes no sense to me. The line of thought as presented above was presented so I could illustrate that I could see where he is coming from. I only read the article as presented above, I did not read the link so maybe he did alert the manager. It did say she resigned when confronted. He was upset at the receipt, have you never been so disgusted at something that you could not eat?

          Me, personally I would have been happy with her losing her job. He chose to sue, I believe the wrong party, but she did break the law however minor the infraction here. Do I think it’s a waste of resources in this country, maybe, but that is not for me to decide. A jury can make that decision.

          • Sneeje says:

            BTW, being called a name does not equal discrimination. You have been the victim of bigotry, but for it to be discrimination, the service would have had to have been different. He ordered food, received the food, and was asked to pay. The name-calling is unacceptable and worthy of firing, but $150K?

            Baloney.

            • AcctbyDay says:

              I think the amount is disproportionate, but I am not able to accurately say what would be just compensation which is why I said a jury should decide that. The deliverance of service is subjective, we have no idea if the service was different. However, the one concrete fact that we do know is that she used a racial slur in the course of serving him.

              Being called racial slurs in the course of receiving waitress service sounds like different service to me.

              • Sneeje says:

                What is worthy of the courts time is also subjective and up to a judge. As I said above, I don’t think name-calling is worthy of any court’s time, especially since our country fundamentally values the ability to say whatever we wish without consequence from any government authority.

                And what she said was not without consequence since she is no longer employed there.

          • Duffin (Ain't This Kitty Cute?) says:

            I don’t know where you can that I was outraged. I was simply telling you that I have been called names and discriminated and that I do know how the guy probably felt and yet didn’t immediately think of suing the person who called me a name. And, yes I have been disgusted that I couldn’t eat. But if it were the business that caused that disgust, I would demand a refund. And, no, the waitress didn’t break any laws.

      • fsnuffer says:

        I was blatantly discriminated against in a Red Lobster. I never went back. Didn’t feel the need to run for a lawyer. Just complained to local management and never went back.

      • Aliciaz777 says:

        But he won’t sue the waitress because the waitress doesn’t have deep pockets like Hooters does.

      • cruster says:

        Where’s the discriminiation? This is name calling – this gentleman wasn’t disadvantaged in any way by what was on the receipt. This isn’t discrimination. Wildly inappropriate? Yep. Discriminatory…I’d say no. Discrimination would be refusing to sell him food because of his race. Name calling is just petty and stupid. Hurtful? Yeah, I’m sure…but not discriminatory.

      • MuleHeadJoe says:

        “blatantly discriminated against like this man” … wha? where? when? How?

        He was called a name … behind his back for the most part. And that in NO way shape or form constitues being “discriminated against” … at no point in the story or accusation was there any indication that Hooters failed to provide him with the same quality of products or services that other customers received. The only thing that happened is that someone *may have* called him an insulting name.

        THATS ALL THAT HAPPENED.

        “Chinx” isn’t even clear to that it was even intended to be a slur or insult in the first place. Did he have an accent? Was it possible that the person taking the order misheard the name given for the take-out order? And how the hell is “chinx” even a slur? Maybe if she had written down “stupid bucktoothed gook”, “slope-faced budda head”, or even “slant-eye” I could see someone making a stink over it, but for “chinx”? Really?

        His name according to the original article is “Kisuk Cha” … I can just imagine what that sounds like if the guy giving it has an accent. I also imagine he’s saying it over the phone (low audio quality to begin with), and the gal taking the order is in a noisy environment (impedes cleary auditory reception). I see absolutely NO serious problem here at all … at the very most, just some MILD insensivity.

        I’m tired of race baiting and idiots who think that name calling is a crime that should be considered equivalent to an assault. It’s not. Get over yourselves.

        • bbb111 says:

          To add to what MuleHeadJoe stated:

          I’ve been called many slurs and witnessed many others used – some were hateful, but most were not. Most were unthinking or just unimaginative insults.

          In some cases, the people were using language they grew up with and they didn’t think of it as a slur. [In two cases, I talked to someone about the slur and they were completely unaware that it was a slur – 0ne was an older relative and the other was an 18 year old from a small town.]

          What is often lacking in these cases is a look at intent and context that can go both ways – one friend said the most racist and hateful thing ever said to him was being called “sir” with a tone of voice full of hate.

          They guy in the story deserves an apology and a few free buckets of wings.

    • RandomHookup says:

      So a business isn’t responsible for the stupid stuff its employees do to customers while on the clock? I agree it’s not worth $150k, but that’s just a number thrown out to get a settlement.

      • AcctbyDay says:

        Business are responsible for acts employees commit that are under the normal course of business. Waitress drops a plate of food on accident on you and it ruins your tie? Business is liable to pay for damages. A waitress goes bat-shit crazy and smothers a customer who didn’t tip them? The business is not liable, the employee committed an act outside of normal employer/employee rules of agency.

        • RandomHookup says:

          Interesting interpretation. In general, a business is responsible for the actions of its agents, even if those actions break the rules. There are limits, but the business has to be responsible for the people it hires, trains and manages.

      • Duffin (Ain't This Kitty Cute?) says:

        The waitress quit immediately. Considering I would likely demand that the person be fired, I think that should have been the end of it. Why do they deserve to get money for a single word on a piece of paper?

        • RandomHookup says:

          An agent of the business insults you while delivering a service. You are upset and don’t eat the meal you paid for. How does the firing of the waitress make you whole? Maybe the person only deserves $30, but being insulted (especially by a business) does cause harm.

          • Duffin (Ain't This Kitty Cute?) says:

            If he was truly upset, he should have gone back and demanded to speak to a manager and also a refund. That’s what he ‘deserves”. He also deserves to have the case thrown out. As someone else mentioned, if the waitress had come after him with a knife calling him racial slurs, he wouldn’t be able to sue Hooters simply because she was working there.

            • RandomHookup says:

              That’s probably what he should have done, but he didn’t. I don’t think it’s worth suing over, but I’m not the aggrieved party here. The knife example is taking it to the extreme and you know someone would at least try to sue over that, if there are real damages. And I would argue that putting descriptions of the customers into the POS may very well be part of the responsibilities of the job, so not really outside the scope of the job.

      • who? says:

        Yes, Hooters is responsible for its employees’ actions. And Hooters took care of the problem by getting rid of the employee (resigned, fired, whatever, she’s gone) the very first time something happened. I think that’s as much as anyone can expect. If the guy’s lawyer had gone through all the receipts and found some sort of pattern of name calling and abuse, there might be grounds for a lawsuit. But in this case, Hooters saw they had a problem, and took care of it. Game over.

        And yes, I’ve been in the guy’s shoes, and probably been called more inflammatory names than he has. It ain’t worth a lawsuit if the company takes care of the problem right away. He’s just looking for a payday.

    • ablestmage says:

      I think the case is completely frivolous. Being called a name isn’t discrimination — rejecting someone from equal service is discrimination. “Not-being-called-a-name” isn’t a service that the restaurant chain, even to the most reasonable estimate, could be held accountable for, for not providing him based on the service he received. It’s freedom of speech, flat out, unquestionably.

    • Jawaka says:

      Agreed. Hooters didn’t put that on the receipt, a human being who has a mind of her own who wasn’t following company instruction did. Sue her.

      That being said, while I don’t condone what she did are we really at a point in society where we’re suing other people for hurting our feelings?

    • bdgbill says:

      Agreed. Did this really need to go any further than a complaint to the manager and getting the girl fired? The hostess lost a job where she was making 60-70k for walking people to their tables while looking adorable. I’m sure she will be reflecting on her insensitivity while working at her new job waiting tables at Denny’s.

      • mharris127 says:

        If they really pay $60K to Hooters wait staff I know a couple of people with large breasts (the only real qualification I have seen in the Hooters that I have ate in) that could use that kind of money. Of course they don’t make that kind of money, most waitresses in my area make about $8-$10 an hour plus tips (if they are lucky tips will double their wage). The only reason wait staff make that much is because the town I live in is senior citizen central (collecting Social Security and a pension) and it is extremely difficult to find someone that isn’t retired and willing to work. Minimum wage in Michigan is $7.75 an hour for most jobs IIRC, we have a sub-minimum for tip-collecting staff but I don’t have that figure handy.

    • Mr Joshua says:

      She is a representative of their company, the face of the company and Hooters should be forced to pay up, if for no other reason than to force it to screen and train its staff better.

  2. dolemite says:

    “I don’t see how this is something where we bear liability.” Well, sort of like when your delivery guy runs a red light and injures someone. You are responsible for your employees while they are working for you. Although I do agree with there being no real damage here. So, the guy was offended. Give him 20 coupons for free meals. It’s not like he’s handicapped for life or fired from his job because of this.

  3. Stickdude says:

    Sticks and stones may break my bones…
    but names are now worth millions…

  4. Gorbachev says:

    What’s really incredible about this is that the “restaurant” in question is in a neighborhood with the biggest asian population in New York City. Asian customers must represent a very sizable portion of the clientele at that location.

    • Velifer says:

      Yeah, she should have used a description that would have been informative, like “Flock-Of-Seagulls Freakshow.”

  5. bnceo says:

    So he says he doesn’t go to national chain restaurant anymore? It took this incident for that to happen? I see only gain for him. He helps small business eateries and get better customer service. And he wants $150K for that? Pathetic reach.

    • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

      You think small business eateries never have racist employees?

      And just because he won’t go to Hooters anymore doesn’t mean it’ll automatically be the mom-and-pop deli. He’ll just pick another chain.

    • MarkFL says:

      Actually, the attorney said he’s not going to any national chain stores, not specifically restaurants. It might be good for small businesses, but it’s still a weird reaction to just one incident with one company.

  6. Guppy06 says:

    “For that, the company does not bear responsibility”

    She’s an employee, not an “independent contractor.”

    “This is just a circumstance where a 20-year-old girl”

    She’s over 18; she’s a “woman.”

    • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

      She’s an employee, not an “independent contractor.”

      Actually, I could have sworn that Hooters classified its waitresses as “models” rather than “employees” in order to get around discrimination claims for only hiring attractive young girls.

  7. Velifer says:

    Put the poor wounded plaintiff on the stand! Based on that clip, he’s got the charisma of a necrotic toad. Jury awards NEGATIVE FUCKS!

    …waiting for the toad’s lawyers to send me a letter.

  8. Audiyoda28 says:

    “…the company does not bear responsibility…”

    Interesting since when you’re at work your employer will tell you that you are representing the company, it’s brand, and it’s image. But when it suits them, “This is just a circumstance where a 20-year-old girl put something unfortunate on a receipt. I don’t see how this is something where we bear liability. I think it’s a frivolous case.”

  9. Hoss says:

    Excuse me Mr Plaintiff — But people go there because they know there’s discrimination. Eliminate the discrimination part — it would be Fridays

  10. carterpeartford says:

    can’t get Covino and Rich’s Asian man impression out of my head. too bad Hooters isn’t taking this serious-lee.

  11. Mambru says:

    Am i the only one who thinks that picking up food at Hooters is the dumbest idea ever? The food is bad but you go for the girls in thight outfits

  12. catskyfire says:

    (sigh) Was what the waitress did dumb? Yep. However, under existing court precedent, he’s toast. A single word, used once, would not rise to the level of egregiousness needed to be considered harassment. It’s not enough, from legal precedent, to be an overt move on behalf of the company to refuse his business. (As opposed, to say, serving him while calling him an offensive word the entire time.)

    A single word, however painful to one personally, used once, is just not that bad. (Sheesh, if being called something unpleasant, once, was worth 150k, women called ‘bitch’ at various establishments could make a fortune.)

  13. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    My goodness. If the Hooter’s lawyer went back over the receipts and says he didn’t find anything incriminating, well then, I guess we should just take his word for it (wink, wink).

    • Therulnig says:

      They did this because the employer can be held responsible if the person can prove in court that the employee’s actions were condoned by the employer.

      This can be direct like written in company policy, or it can be through negligence where there were several opportunities in the past to correct the behavior and they didn’t correct it. So whether there were previous “racist receipts” is very relevant to the case. Since there were none, they decided to fight it because it’ll be thrown out of court in 2.5 seconds.

  14. SirWired says:

    This was a $hitty thing to do, and worthy of firing, and he’s of course welcome to never go to Hooters every again, but I’m not seeing where any claim to damages comes from. There’s no claim the service was discriminatory, the food tampered with, etc.

    Somebody being mean to you, if all they do is call you a name (no matter how derogatory) is not a valid tort.

    • Rachacha says:

      “Somebody being mean to you, if all they do is call you a name (no matter how derogatory) is not a valid tort”

      If it only was, I could have graduated 8th grade as a billionaire!

    • MarkFL says:

      If being called names merited suing people, wouldn’t the entire Web be one ginormous lawsuit?

  15. Akuma Matata says:

    The gov’t made up your right to not be discriminated against by an individual or group of individuals… this lawsuit should be laughed out of court.

  16. Emperor Norton I says:

    I’m guessing that if this goes to court, Hooters’ lawyer will undoubtedly get it thrown out.
    It’s not libel or defamation as it was a private slur & wasn’t made public until the plaintiff made it public.
    He’ll get nothing in court, but he probably would have gotten a really big gift card from Hooters if he just complained to their HQ.
    He’s a genuine douche!

  17. caj111 says:

    Racism and the potential damages of this lawsuit, can someone tell me how one types any kind of word onto a receipt? I worked at a lot of restaurants before and as a server, and I wouldn’t even know how to do what this Hooters employee did. When I entered a customer’s tab into an electronic cash register, the only words that would go on there were the menu items, which were pre-programmed into the cash register with their prices. There was either a button on the register that said “steak” or an electronic touchscreen where it said “steak”, we never would have to enter the letters S-T-E-A-K on the register and there wouldn’t have been any way to do so anyway. I don’t think there was any way to enter individual letters anywhere. It was all preprogrammed menu items. Are these racist employees also able to hack the electronic cash registers?

    • Duffin (Ain't This Kitty Cute?) says:

      Some restaurants use a customer’s name to identify their food. Like, if you go to Arby’s, they usually ask, “Can I get a name for this order?”

    • caj111 says:

      “Racism and the potential damages of this lawsuit *aside” I meant to say. Sorry about that.

    • NickRayko says:

      How long has it been since you worked in a restaurant? POS (point of sale) systems that allow a variety of custom-entry fields have been available since at least 1995.

      • caj111 says:

        Not since 1994, when I worked at some overpriced place that used the Micros system. I guess things have changed somewhat.

        • MarkFL says:

          Ha ha. When I worked at Barnes & Noble in 1994, they were still using text-based software on their computers — no Windows. If you wanted to look up, say, Treasure Island, you had to type in “T=TREASURE ISLAND.” No picture of the cover or anything. This was about the time I got a brand new 386 computer with Windows 3.11.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Obviously some POS allow employees to enter party/other descriptions because this has happened several times. Sounds like most a quick description for people you need to remember … “guy with Yankees hat”, “2 young men in polos near elk head”. The info is probably for back office, but gets out or is instructions typed in wrong place.

  18. RenegadePlatypus says:

    I’m not sure what kind of service he expected. When you go to a dental training school to get amateur cut-rate dental services, you pretty much waive any right to complain about the professionalism.
    When you go to what is essentially a preparatory academy for strippers, the same rule applies.

    • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

      When you go to what is essentially a preparatory academy for strippers, the same rule applies.

      Don’t be an ass. Most of these girls are working their way through college. You’re no better than them just because you wore black pants and a white shirt at McDonald’s.

      • momoftwokids says:

        No white shirts at McDonalds (ours wear black or dark blue). Can you imagine the stains that would show on those things if they were white??? ugh.

  19. Cicadymn says:

    Somebodies feelings may have been hurt.

    And that’s worth Billions.

  20. longfeltwant says:

    It sounds to me that Hooters did the right thing. I award the man no money.

  21. shinseiromeo says:

    In before you can sue anyone for any reason…

    Can you sue an entire chain because of ONE employee at ONE restaurant, whereas this ONE person has their own free will?

  22. shovelDriver says:

    Playing the devil’s advocate:

    “. . .the moment one walks into your place of business, he or she is entitled to equal treatment and protection . . .”

    Isnt that what happened? Wasn’t the customer treated similarly, equally, and protected from discrimination by being insulted just like all the other customers?

  23. RandomLetters says:

    Hmmmm. Nice to know the price for Butthurt in the First Degree. I have to wonder, what made her write the slur on his ticket. If she had never done it before then why start now?

  24. cactus jack says:

    Man, I missed out on a goldmine growing up then. As the only Asian in an all white school, I was bullied with the nickname “ching chong boy” and people would write that shit everywhere I could see it.

    Parents didn’t do anything to try and stop it, gym teacher helped the kids trash my gym clothes weekly or throw them in the toilet, and the most I got was a sympathetic teacher here and there.

    I should tell my parents we really missed the money train on this shit.

  25. shthar says:

    If you’re eating at a place called ‘hooters’, I’m really not going to get bent out of shape about this.

  26. thwait says:

    Maybe I should have been a lawyer…lol?

    Because she wears a Hooter’s uniform, however small it may be, she is technically a representative of the company itself and speaks as a spokes person of that compan. So, she represents Hooters in what she said. That’s how I understand it in anycase. I don’t know that that fact can be disputed.

    And he did receive a specific type of service based on his race. Others did not receive their bill with the slurs or insults, but because he is chinese he received worse service than anyone else. I don’t think the fact that this has never happened before actually applies because it happened now. The lack of similar events doesn’t really matter.

    Now I agree that this is perhaps an under handed take on the events but it is, to a degree, valid.

  27. july18 says:

    so, for 150k – he’s ok with being called a racial slur … he’s not humiliated – he’s a prosititute

  28. Bob A Dobalina says:

    How ironic- Sexist Sues Waitress He Was Objectifying for Offending Him

  29. Stickdude says:

    And a decent commenting system on Consumerist would be worth even more… :(

  30. Rachacha says:

    Dinner for 4 from Hooters …$48.97
    Lawsuit for racial slur on Hooters receipt … $150,000
    Comment system with an edit function on popular consumer website…Priceless