Subway Manager Fined $75 For Asking Pakistani Customer If He Was A Terrorist

Four days after the attempted Times Square bombing, a 64-year-old Indian-born Subway manager in North Chicago walked up to a 29-year-old Pakistani-born customer and said: “I heard you guys were recruiting more terrorists in New York. Are you one of them?”

The customer left the Subway and found a police officer, who wrote the manager a citation for disorderly conduct. A judge this week ordered the manager to pay a $75 fine.

“It’s not the money, but I don’t think it was a fair deal,” [the manager] said. “Are we not allowed in the world to talk anything to a guy?” […] “We all talk when something happens. We just kid around.”

“I was very surprised and shocked that people reacted this way,” said [the customer], who moved to Waukegan from Pakistan with his family when he was 14. “It was very upsetting, and I was very offended.” […] “I didn’t respond back even though I wanted to,” he said. “I contained myself, and I just left.”

The customer, who drove a taxi, was so upset about the comment that he quit his job and is now unemployed and depressed. Like any good American, he is considering a suit against Subway and the manager.

Terrorist joke costs eatery manager $75 [The Chicago Tribune]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Ouze says:

    I don’t… I don’t think being a jerk is illegal.

    • Pax says:

      He wasn’t fined for “being a jerk”. He was fined for “disorderly conduct” … which means, in part, to “disturb the peace”. And can easily be interpreted to include activities which have a very high probability of starting a fight.


      I’d also like to point out the fact that there is a history of antagonism between India and Pakistan. Thus, the Manager’s words may have met that Judge’s standards for being “hate speech”.

      • El_Red says:


      • Fair&Balanced says:

        Hate speech/fighting words are only illegal if YOU get physical or if you directly threaten them with physical harm.
        If you make fun of someone (without threatening them) then you have not committed any crime unless you then attack them.

        This manager might have been an ass, but he did not commit any crime. He is protected by the constitution. Now Subway can fire him if they want to.

        • tsukiotoshi says:

          Not quite right. It is not that it must actually incite violence or a fight but that it is either intended to or is extremely likely to cause an immediate breach of the peace. It is a pretty hard standard to meet, however.

          • Marshmelly says:

            I want to agree, but I feel like if breaching the peace were the only issue with hate speech, the entire Westboro Baptist Church would have been thrown in jail a long time ago…

      • jedsa says:

        Hate speech is not illegal, and is, in fact, constitutionally protected.

        • Pax says:

          Yes and no.

          Hate speech which suggests or incites violent action, where said violence is “imminent”, is not protected. You can’t shout, for example, “Let’s burn that ____” while standing in a crowd of angry racists, all holding torches and cans of gasoline; you’ll get arrested, tried, AND convicted for that.

          • kcvaliant says:

            Not sure on that.. The Phelp’s have been doing it for awhile now.. They will drop the ticket if he presses it.. And the guy has no recourse to sue him or the company.. If any judge grants that then the end of the world will happen..

        • Griking says:

          Are you proud of that?

          • nosense22 says:

            Does being proud or not, make it more or less constitutionally protected? If not, then why ask the question?

          • Marshmelly says:

            what is that supposed to mean? He just said it was constitutionally protected…doesn’t mean he is proud of hate speech or even participates in hate speech.

    • MR. TheShack (SHORYUKEN!) says:

      As Carlos Miller would say, he was charged with contempt-of-cop. Basically the police didn’t like it, and decided to use a law meant for something else to charge him. Of course it was just a ticket. But meh. Still frustrating.

    • sonneillon says:

      It might be interesting if they had said racist remark is an attempt to dissuade him from shopping there by premise of race and charged him based on that because race is a protected class.

      Seems shaky legal ground though. It’s just easier to fine him 75 dollars and make it a red tape nightmare so he’ll just pay up and shut up.

  2. Devil505 says:

    I love how disorderly conduct gets used as “I don’t like you, therefore you broke the law.” .

    • strathmeyer says:

      1/10; not even trying

    • The Marionette says:

      Uh what? DISorderly conduct. Then that must mean you believe everyone in everyday situations should be shouting at someone else all the time? Because that would be disorderly. Disorderly in this situation is someone using racial discrimination. That’s not something orderly people would do everyday. Why do you think job applications have the option (not requirement) to check off which nationality/ies you are? It would be disorderly if they were to do so.

  3. runswithscissors says:

    OK, he’s a racist jerko and all, but:

    – getting fined for an offensive comment? As in, breaking the law? Yikes. Dangerous precedent there…

    – The cab driver got so depressed that his life is currently ruined? Double yikes – the manager guy was a jerk but man! You need some thicker skin in life. If one random jerk can make a racist and offensive comment and you let that destroy your job and put you into depression, then you have given that jerk WAY too much power over you! However if this was just the last straw in a case of genuine chemical depression, please seek proper medical help for it.

    • zigziggityzoo says:

      Precedent isn’t set by a magistrate, or by a trial court.

      • sonneillon says:

        If he uses the wider definition of precedent and not the judicial definition it is ok.

        any act, decision, or case that serves as a guide or justification for subsequent situations.

        • runswithscissors says:

          Yes, that’s how I meant it. A precedent for society and thus possibly later for the courts and lawmakers.

    • Dieflatermous says:

      Yeah, you just need thicker skin when people make racist remarks every single day towards you, that sounds great!

      Maybe people just need to learn that racism isn’t as clever or funny as they seem to think it is.

      • incident_man says:


      • runswithscissors says:

        Uh, completely NOT what I said.

        If he had someone say something racist to him and he:
        – called the guy an ignorant jerk
        – punched him (illegal, yes, but an understandable reaction)
        – reported him to an authority (which he did, no problems there)

        All of these are understandable, if not always productive, reactions.

        But spiraling one’s life into the dumpster (unemployment, depression, etc) over ONE comment from ONE random jerk ONCE?

        No no no no. He gives the jerk too much power. He gives everyone too much power if he is that fragile.

        This wasn’t someone stalking him making racist comments every day. This wasn’t a community ostracizing him nor a place of employment harboring a hostile environment.

        This was one random jerk.

        Think about it – this could happen to you tomorrow. Some nutter comes up to you on the street and calls you a (derogatory term against your race or culture). Do you let that one comment destroy your life?

        But to specifically address the two strawman arguments you made:

        1) At no point did I say someone subjected to daily racist remarks only has to develop thicker skin as a means of handling it.

        2) In no way did I portray racism as “clever” or “funny”. Quite the opposite, I specifically called out the speaker of the racist comment as a jerk.

        Argue against my points, don’t just throw strawmen at me and set them on fire.

  4. raleel says:

    I think I am in agreement with the three comments I see here. He’s a jerk, but it shouldn’t be illegal. bad precedent.

    The taxi cab driver should have taken out a full page ad or something.

  5. Abradax says:

    The judge should have threw out the ticket, and the manager should be seeking legal council. There is no law against being a jerk. There is one protecting our freedom of expression however, unless Congress got rid of that in the healthcare bill and I missed it. IF the customer wanted to press, it would be slander if others were around to hear it, but that is a civil matter, not criminal.

    • stock2mal says:

      It seems that the Republicans are doing more to take away constitutional rights and civil liberties last time I checked.

      -An independent voter.

      • Abradax says:

        Interesting, and what do you base this on?

        • says:

          The Bush Administration’s expansion of government power and erosion of civil liberties. Also, many of these so-called “strict constructionist” judges and justices on the courts have been more than eager to affirm government power and excesses.

          • pantheonoutcast says:

            Yes, the Obama administration has never appointed any inexperienced, controversial, or dangerous person to any position on his cabinet, (including lifetime posts) nor have they passed or attempted to pass any bills or laws that exceed their constitutional power.

            Nope. Never. Only Republicans do things like that.

        • Tombo says:

          Oh Patriot act, warrantees wiretapping, presidential order with the ability to detain indefinitely without probable cause, small stuff like that.

          • Abradax says:

            Our current democratic president is using the same powers, and has expanded the authority of his office to allow executions of American citizens. Our liberty to decide wheather to choose to have healthcare or not has been taken away, and it is the republicans who scare you? The entire government, both sides should be sending chills down your spine.

            • YOXIM says:

              Liberty to decide whether or not you want healthcare being taken away? LOL

            • watch me boogie says:

              “Our liberty to decide wheather to choose to have healthcare or not has been taken away.”

              Oh, how horribly oppressed we are here in the United States, being forced to have *healthcare*! Someone do something!

              Having health insurance shouldn’t even be an option. It’s absolutely basic.

              • Abradax says:

                Really, so I as a person with the means to pay for medical care should something arise, should be forced to pay for insurance? Or pay the federal government a penalty for my choice?

                • RvLeshrac says:

                  Since, if you can’t pay for your healthcare, *I* have to pay for *your* healthcare, yes.

                  The goal of the legislation is to make insurance affordable for those who can’t currently afford the usurious insurance costs, and to set basic standards of care. When *everyone* is paying into the insurance pool, *everyone* gets health care, and at a lower cost.

            • JMILLER says:

              No it shouldn’t. I will say this as easily as possible. The problem with politicians in general is they spend too much time listening to the public. When I go to the doctor I don’t put the decisions he makes up for a vote. When I go to the auto mechanics I don’t put what he does to fix my car up for a popularity contest. I consult with experts int he field. A LEADER will do what is right despite what the political fallout is. They will consult with experts and decide a course of action. If you want popularity on issues, you get stupidity abound. I would not trust a popular vote on military strategy in Afghanistan any more than I do on the popular way morons sitting in Peoria think they can solve unemployment.
              Just for the record, I put Obama in this same boat. It is why the American system is flawed. It allows Joe the plumber to think he is an expert on anything other than plumbing.

      • George4478 says:

        That’s true. This is what you get when you go into a well-known, long-time, heavily-Republican enclave like Chicago. After all, there is no redder state than Illinois and….

        Wait a minute….

      • JennQPublic says:

        Yes, because this cop was obviously a Reoublican trying to take away the Subway employee’s rights.

        I’m a Democrat, but could you knock it off? Bringing completely unrelated rants up like this makes us all look like idiots. This story has nothing to do with the Patriot act. Get over it already.

  6. Xyjar says:

    This story made me so depressed I had to quit my job and cut myself. Lost wages/medical expenses will be billed directly to consumerist.

  7. Mr. Pottersquash says:

    i think as the “manager” of a store the guy was patronizing, he should be fined for such comments because they are borderline attempts to dissuade him from being a customer. But that is not a”disorderly conduct” thats a serious federal allegations. But as a guy, he is just a jerk and doesnt free speech protect him? (and fighting words protecting the Pakistani customer if he decked him)

    stores and their agents can not accost patrons based on race, but thats a higher level wrong than this

    • Xyjar says:

      Well as an employee of any company (which you don’t own), it’s pretty standard for a comment like that to get you fired. But it’s not illegal in anyway to be a racist douchebag if you choose to, so any kind of fine is ridiculous.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Not sure how this is a “serious federal allegation”…

    • RandomHookup says:

      I don’t think the “fighting words” doctrine works that way. The courts have usually held that insults and the like aren’t protected speech under the First Amendment. And it wouldn’t protect the victim from charges of assault, though it might mitigate the punishment.

  8. dustindmw says:

    I dont say anything, but come one. I think most people think it when they see one of those people.

    • Pax says:

      …. no.

      *I* am not a racist asshole. So no, I don’t think it. Nor, to my knowledge, does anyone I care to call “friend”.

      Remember: Timothy McVeigh was white …

      • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

        Amen to that. “Terrorist” is not a race or a nationality…and most of the ones that have hit the US are our own, domestic, homegrown sorts.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        Except that there are those that would argue that Timothy McVeigh wasn’t engaging in acts of terror. He was seeking retribution against the federal government specifically for their actions at Waco and Ruby Ridge.

        Personally, I think the definition of “terrorist” is far too broad. If you use the very liberal (pun intended) definition of “terrorist”, then the American Revolutionary militia would be classified as such.

        • sqlrob says:

          Attack garrisons in manner not following the general rule of war at the time to demoralize?

          yeah, that’s terrorism, even by the strict definition.

    • kmw2 says:

      You’re totally right – I do often think that white men in positions of petty authority are likely to be racist douchebags.

    • tbax929 says:

      Like Wanda Sykes, I am more afraid of white men in business suits than I am afraid of anyone else.

    • coren says:

      dnt sy nythng, bt cm n. thnk mst ppl thnk t whn thy s n f ths ppl.

    • Boo LaRue says:

      “Those people”? Sigh.

    • Boo LaRue says:

      “Those people”? Sigh.

  9. hypochondriac says:

    I was born in America but my Parents are from Pakistan. If it had been me I would have said screw you and maybe complained to the management of subway. Being fined $75 for being a jerk is a bit much.

    I’m betting it has more to do with the antagonism between India and Pakistan then anything else

  10. Poisonthescene says:

    could have been worse. Could have tasered him.

  11. Straspey says:

    There’s a *very* important element to this story which is missing:

    Was the subway manager wearing his uniform and on the job in his capacity as an official of the Chicago Transit System ?

    If he was on the job and in uniform, then the offended party can claim he was racially profiled by a uniformed official of the City of Chicago. This is especially true because, as a station manager, the employee has a certain level of authority which goes with the job and has definite implications.

    Now – if the guy was not wearing his uniform or any other badge or form of official identification, the question is – did he identify himself as the station manager to the Pakistani man, ie: “I’m the manager of this station and I want to ask you a question…” Because if he DID say something like that, then it’s the same as if he were in his official uniform.

    BUT – if he was just being a racist jerk (as others have mentioned) in street clothes, then yes – he has a constitutional right to do that…especially because if being a racists jerk were a crime, the jails would be overflowing with them.

    • Pax says:

      I was assuming that hte “Subway” mentioned in the article was the sandwich shop chain, not an ACTUAL subway-station.

      • Straspey says:


        Sorry everybody – my bad.

        I live in NY City where the subject of terrorism in the subway system is a constant topic of discussion. And, in fact, here we actually do have “station managers.”

        It just never occurred to me that they were referring to a Subway sandwich shop;
        and we certainly have plenty of those here as well.

        Sorry guys.

    • dreamfish says:

      Wrong subway.

    • Ecks says:

      He is the manager of a Subway restaurant, not the subway system.

    • fantomesq says:

      It was Subway, the sandwich shop, not the transit system. Unless the comment was made in uniform in or around the shop, it was in his individual capacity, not his official position. Furthermore Subway restaurants are franchises, not authorized to act on behalf of the company.

    • dg says:

      North Chicago is a crap hole, slightly worse than many parts of Waukegan… and VERY far North of the Chicago city limits. No actual subway transit system there – just the craptastic restaurants…

  12. vinmega says:

    Maybe this was just what that kid needed to become a full blown terrorist.

  13. KillerBee says:

    He was so upset he quit his job? What kind of sense does that make?

  14. TasteyCat says:

    Somebody’s hoping for a big payday.

  15. dr_drift says:

    In an organizational context, I would absolutely understand a punishment. In the context of law, though, I don’t see what the manager did that was illegal. I understand that he was being super racist, but the cops don’t hand out tickets at KKK events to everyone in a white sheet and Black Panther outfit. Moreover, it seems ridiculous that the “victim” would quit his job, become depressed and consider filing suit against all the racist people in the world. I’m Mexican, and I’ve heard it all, even from my in-laws, but you just have to let it go. It’s just one of the downsides to being part of the race that’s still totally cool to make fun of: Mexicans and Middle Easterners. It didn’t become unacceptable to make outright fun of Asians until, like, 30 years ago. Our day will come soon, don’t worry Muhammad!

    • strathmeyer says:

      So… you don’t understand the law because you’re racist? How do you expect us to help?

    • RvLeshrac says:

      But if that KKK meeting was scheduled to take place inside the Apollo theatre, and they all yelled “NIGGERS” as soon as they stepped inside, that would certainly be “disorderly conduct,” at least for those that survive.

      “Fighting Words” laws are designed to discourage the above, and ensure that the stupid don’t kill themselves in a similar fashion.

      Note that Khan says he held his tongue and fetched an officer, rather than striking back. How many times have you seen a news story about someone being shot in a bar for a less offensive statement? The manager is lucky that the individual he insulted wasn’t more hot-headed, and armed.

  16. Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

    “The customer left the Subway and found a police officer, who wrote the manager a citation for disorderly conduct”

    Yeah, that was a cop on a power trip. I’d hate to think what would happen if you said something that offended him personally. Probably “resisting arrest” and “assault on a police officer.”

    Shame on the judicial system for yet again giving the cops a pass on bogus, abusive charges.

  17. yusefyk says:

    The “quit his job” thing is what Americans call “setting up for lawsuit,” right?

  18. JasonR says:

    “I heard you guys were recruiting more terrorists in New York. Are you one of them?”

    Seeking alternate employment while on the clock is generally cause for termination.

  19. chucklesjh says:

    People around here seem to use the “n-word” a lot, surprised this hasn’t happened here yet.

  20. phonic says:

    Am I the only one who thought they were referring to ‘Subway’ the restaurant and not the transit system???

  21. yorick328 says:

    While interesting but inane…what does this have with to do with consumers?

  22. Brent says:

    Regardless of the judge’s ruling, he has a First Amendment right to ask that question.

    • BadgerPudding says:

      Just like someone has a first amendment right to stand up during a movie and ask: “IS THE THEATER ON FIRE?!?!?!?

      • Brent says:

        Does he use redundant punctuation and upper case letters in an attempt to make his argument? If so, I have little sympathy. Contempt, yes. But little sympathy.

  23. BadgerPudding says:

    Publicly accusing someone of being a terrorist right after an attempted attack seems a lot like yelling fire in a theater. The fine is well deserved. The first amendment does have limits, and this guy, through his own ignorance and intolerance, ran head first into one.

    • Brent says:

      That’s called a “heckler’s veto,” and it’s unconstitutional. You can’t preemptively silence someone because you’re afraid what he says will lead to violence.

      • BadgerPudding says:

        Read the article. You can. But thanks for playing!

        • Brent says:

          I did read the article, of course. You’re confusing Constitutionality with a judge’s ruling. This will be appealed, ruled unconstitutional, and the judge’s ruling will be overturned.

          • Brent says:

            I want to clarify, because I’m not naive to what you’re saying. If someone hits you because you say something he finds offensive, the crime isn’t your speech, it’s the the assault. You can’t be liable for someone’s reaction to your speech. Otherwise, Mark Twain would be illegal, and we’d be arresting every high school student in the deep south who wears an HRC shirt to school.

  24. Chinchillazilla says:

    I suspect everyone involved this story is just a dick.

  25. Hoss says:

    Was he looking for a career change?? It that’s the case, than the question is perfectly understandable. Otherwise, WTF?

    Racial slurs not an arrestable offense, but why draw attention over $75. Stupid people

  26. Roll-a-Quarters says:

    Well, by law this was carried out correctly. Fighting words are not covered by free speech.

    The utterance of fighting words is not protected by the free speech protections of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The words are often evaluated not only by the words themselves, but the context in which they are spoken. Courts generally impose a requirement that the speaker intended to cuase a breach of the peace or incite the hearer to violence.

    Fighting words are words intentionally directed toward another person which are so venomous and full of malice as to cause the hearer to suffer emotional distress or incite him/her to immediately retaliate physically. Fighting words are not an excuse or defense for a retaliatory assault and battery. However, if they are so threatening as to cause apprehension, they can form the basis for a lawsuit for assault, even though the words alone don’t constitute an assault.”

    • Brent says:

      Fighting words are in the eye, or ear, of the beholder. When a street preacher tells me I’m a goddamned faggot who’s going to burn in hell’s eternal gas ovens, I could say those are fighting words. You say fighting words, I say First Amendment.

  27. Beeker26 says:

    “The customer, who drove a taxi, was so upset about the comment that he quit his job and is now unemployed and depressed.”

    Why can’t he just get a job at his parent’s Quicky-Mart??? Frozen Slushies make everyone happy!

  28. Mcshonky says:

    First explain how his conduct as described was disorderly.
    Offensive certainly but disorderly?

    Second, an Indian man is making fun of a Pakistani man?
    Most Americans can’t tell them apart and most racists certainly can’t.
    Those with a Muslim bias/hatred/distrust/fear don’t know that Indians generally aren’t Muslim and this manager I am sure has experienced a backlash, these last 9 years.

    This guy was your customer and you ridicule him for the acts of others?
    The manager should have said a kind thing to him about the incident because for all he knows this guy has been receiving crap from strangers and “friends” all day.

    Look within before you trow a hurtful comment about the race/religion/sexual identity/immigration status of our friends.

  29. XTREME TOW says:

    Re: Subway Manager. That was very ‘White’ of him!

    I am patiently waiting for the day when us Honkies (Crackers, Clansmen, White Bread, whatever) become minorities. Then WE will be allowed to be as Politically Un-Correct in our speech, while hiding behind the First Amendment. We will be able to be as blatantly bigoted and offensive with speech advocating violence towards people of other skin colors (like ‘minorities’ are doing today!), and if any of you present day minorities even dare to look at us sideways, we’re going to find a cop and claim YOU were engaging in “Hate Crime Speech” against us!
    It’s either that, or, us Trailer Park White Trash will just have to develop a sarcastic sense of humor to deal with the people who are as capable of being insensitive JERKS as we used to be!
    The First Amendment should apply to everyone equally. Jerks, A$$Holes, and Bigots too.
    If someone wants to prove to the world that they are a genetically defective, mentally limited example of humanity, they shouldn’t discouraged from doing so.
    Didn’t anyone learn anything in Second Grade Recess? I mean, besides jumping rope and dodging balls.

    The Customer should be given a coupon “Good For One Free Punch!”
    (Coupon should have picture of Thomas Jefferson on it. It was his idea!)

  30. yankinwaoz says:

    Find by whom? What right does a judge have to fine someone for speaking his mind in the US? Yea, he is idiot. But the last time I looked, we still have the first amendment and free speech.

    And what the hell does Subway have to do with this? The manager wasn’t speaking for Subway. Subway didn’t post this comment on their website, or ads, or any other business communications. This was just some Joe Blow idiot trying to be clever.

    I think this fine is far worse than any insult this bozo came up with.

  31. coren says:

    They’re both idiots.

    The manager is obviously playing cya, OH HAHAHA I TOLD SUCH A FUNNY JOKE RIGHT THERE

    But this dude is trying to milk it for all he’s worth too.

  32. Llama says:

    The story was allright until the “I’m so sad because of a comment that I quit my job boohoo” part of it.

    Be careful everyone, he might be reading the comments, feel sad about it and you’ll end up paying for his anti-depression medication.

  33. DD_838 says:

    Lets not forget the manager asked a question, he did not make a statement.

    All this talk about “Fighting Words” is nonsense. You can be held liable for slander for which there is a criteria that has to be met. Usually (but not limited too) having some sort of publication involved (passing out fliers saying he was in fact a terrorist).
    As for using it as a defense for battery… good luck with that.

    The Westboro Baptist Church would all be in wheel chairs by now (or at least bankruptcy) by now if this were the case.

  34. Good Cop Baby Cop says:

    Wow, the rare everyone’s-a-jerk story.

  35. bitsnbytes says:

    A stupid comment, delivered by a private citizen to another, on private property, constitutes disorderly conduct? Isn’t this the sort of a–hole behavior the ACLU likes to defend?

  36. HoJu says:

    THIS sections speaks volumes:
    “The customer, who drove a taxi, was so upset about the comment that he quit his job and is now unemployed and depressed. Like any good American, he is considering a suit against Subway and the manager.”

  37. Harry_Greek says:

    “The customer, who drove a taxi, was so upset about the comment that he quit his job and is now unemployed and depressed. Like any good American, he is considering a suit against Subway and the manager.”

    Riiiight. And once the judge throws this lawsuit out, or this scumbag settles for a 5 digit figure, he will be behind the cab.

  38. Dallas_shopper says:

    He shouldn’t have been fined, but he should have been fired.

    And the Pakistani man really needs to get over it. I know hearing things like that is no fun; I went through weeks and months of hearing “the US had it coming” after 9/11 when I lived in the UK. Never sued and nobody got fined or fired. You just need to learn how to let that kind of stuff roll off you as best you can. And I know it’s hurtful.

  39. tishamae10 says:

    wait exactly why did he quit his job cause at 29 you can’t handle a little bit of racism, therefore you need to quit your job and sit around and be depressed? this is the most whiniest unprepared generation i can think of…sheesh

    yeah it’s a bit off putting and offensive, but what does that have to do with YOUR own personal job…not following correctly I don’t think