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Complaint filed against D.C. bistro for ‘gay bitches’ slur on printed receipt

Complaint filed against D.C. bistro for ‘gay bitches’ slur on printed receipt
Courtesy: Lambda Legal
Courtesy: Lambda Legal
Update: June 11, 2014, Statement from Bistro 18 Update: June 12, 2014, Statement from Lambda Legal WASHINGTON — Lambda Legal filed a complaint Tuesday in the Washington, D.C., Office of Human Rights on behalf of a transgender woman who was given a restaurant receipt with an anti-LGBT slur printed on it while socializing with friends at a local hookah bar. Amira Gray says she went to Bistro 18 in the District’s Adams Morgan neighborhood on August 11, 2013 with eight friends. The group seated themselves and eventually had to approach the bar to order, while other tables were being served. During the evening, the server came to the party’s table only once to deliver the hookah machine the group had ordered at the bar.

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According to the complaint, at the end of the night, the bartender dropped off the check, which had the words “GAY BITCHES” printed where the customer’s name would be written. When one of Gray’s friends approached the manager to bring this to his attention, the manager snatched what he thought was the offending receipt out of the man’s hands and printed a new receipt without the slur on it. However, Gray’s friend kept the original receipt and captured photos of it. “When my friends and I saw the receipt, we were humiliated and embarrassed,” Gray said. “We went in planning to enjoy Bistro 18 just like everyone else in the hookah bar that evening, but it turned into a disturbing experience. I am standing up for my friends and me because I don’t think anyone should have to go through that.” Continue reading

Courtesy: Lambda Legal
Courtesy: Lambda Legal

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Lambda Legal has filed a public accommodations discrimination complaint under the DC Human Rights Act (DCHRA) arguing that Bistro 18 violated the DC Human Rights Act by discriminating against Gray based on her actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex in a place of public accommodation.

“Discrimination against LGBT customers is a widespread problem that often goes unaddressed in businesses across the country. That this happened in Washington, D.C., where LGBT people have strong protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and personal appearance, points out the importance of ensuring existing laws are enforced,” said Dru Levasseur, Lambda Legal Transgender Rights Project Director.

“By standing up for herself and her friends, Amira is taking a stand for all LGBT people who are targeted by businesses for unequal treatment because of who they are.,” said Levasseur.

Update, June 11, 2014: Bistro18 has posted the following response on its Facebook page:

“This incident has occurred almost a year ago as you can see on the receipt and was dealt with on that same night. There is no purpose of resurfacing this issue and set allegations against a business that has strict enforcement of all anti-discrimination laws in its business model. The management at Bistro18 took extreme and immediate measures in dealing with the situation. The employee was fired that night and Ms Gray received an apology from the employee and the management as well as her check was waived to express the apology.

“Bistro18 does not and will not tolerate any discrimination in the business as it has been hosting customers and employing regardless to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, and national of origin. Therefore, the management would like to leave this matter at peace; with full intention to demonstrate where it stands on this matter.”

Update, June 12, 2014: Lambda Legal has posted the following statement in response to a blog post at the Bilerico Project::

The article recently posted on the Bilerico Project blog regarding the administrative complaint we filed on behalf of Amira Gray with the Washington, D.C., Office of Human Rights (OHR) with respect to Ms. Gray’s experience at Bistro 18 makes a number of assertions that will no doubt be investigated by OHR. The statements of the restaurant’s manager, recounted in the blog as if they were accurate, however, are in sharp contrast to what our client and her friends experienced.

Lambda Legal doesn’t make decisions lightly about how to proceed, and gathered confirmation of the allegations in the OHR complaint before it was filed. Not only do we have the receipt clearly showing the antigay slur, but multiple members of a large group of friends who were with Amira at Bistro 18 have corroborated what actually happened that night.

Furthermore, Lambda Legal’s Facebook post showing an image of the receipt only asked our followers to like and share the image to tell the restaurant that discrimination is against the law. We have not asked people to write poor reviews of Bistro 18 on any site nor called for a boycott.

Given that the Bilerico Project blog quotes the restaurant’s manager as having “confirmed the basic facts in the complaint” and given the other information that undercuts the credibility of the restaurant manager’s portrayal of the events of that night, we are confident that the OHR proceedings will lead to a fair outcome in this matter.

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