A Washington man has filed a $100,000 lawsuit against Elmer’s, a diner chain up in the Northwest, because he says one of its restaurants made him, the only black customer, prepay for breakfast. Brian Eason, a realtor and sheriff’s deputy who works down the street from that location, says he went there last December for a quiet breakfast, and he claims that when the waitress took his order, she sheepishly mentioned that he’d have to prepay.
At first he didn’t think much of the demand, besides that it was weird:
“I was kind of curious about it and said, ‘Well, is that new?’ And she said ‘Yes, we had a few walk-aways and my boss asked me to ask for prepayment,’” Eason told The Oregonian/OregonLive on Wednesday.
Eason didn’t think anything of it, he said, until he later ordered another drink and the waitress again wanted prepayment.
“I said, ‘This is kind of odd that I have to prepay every time I order my food and drink,’” Eason recounted. “She said, ‘I think it’s discrimination and my boss is here, and she’s forcing me to have me do this.’”
He tells The Oregonian that he tipped her well since she was just doing her job and clearly felt ashamed, but he says the more he thought about the situation, the angrier he became. Eventually, he says he went back inside and asked other customers, who were all white, if they had to prepay. They said they hadn’t. According to the suit, he then complained to the corporate offices, and when nobody responded, he decided to sue, since every time he drives by, “It’s a constant reminder of ‘They don’t want me in there.’”
Jill Ramos, Elmer’s director of restaurant support, has assured the media there is “no Elmer’s policy requiring any guest to prepay,” and that they “have taken steps to ensure that the franchisee has ended this practice.”