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Accusations of Discrimination at Rochester Restaurant

June 15, 2018 05:54 PM

(ABC 6 News) - A second family has come forward Friday, saying they were treated disrespectfully while dining at a Red Lobster restaurant in Rochester.

After Muslim family said they were discriminated against by staff at the restaurant, a woman who wishes to only be identified as "Jackie" said her family was treated unfairly too. 

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Jackie said her family was seated in the back of the Red Lobster restaurant near the bathroom and asked to sit somewhere else; a food mix-up followed which prompted their waitress to bring in the manager, "As she was talking she was angry. You could see it in her body language. And spit or slobber was coming from her mouth and it was getting in my food."
 
She said that conversation eventually turned into an argument, "The waitress told me, whispered in my ear and said, I knew you weren't gonna give me a tip. You people don't give me a tip. I was mad when you all came in because you didn't want to sit by the bathroom."

According to Jackie, the manager told her they should “take it to the parking lot."


"At that time I was 49. What do I look like going to the parking lot trying to fight at 49? I was so embarrassed that this was happening. Then, I was in disbelief that it was happening to me because of the color of my skin,” said Jackie.
 
She said when she complained to the Red Lobster corporate office she was assured they would investigate the incident. 

So, when she heard about another family reported an incident she said she was shocked.

"They don't care. Cause if they did, this wouldn't be happening again," said Jackie.

Jaylani Hussein, the Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, is representing the Muslim family who reported discrimination.

"To break the fast you only need water or something sweet. So they requested water.  Typically with any service like this water comes in the first minutes," explained Hussein.  The family told Hussein they waited for 20 minutes and ended up leaving because they felt they were being discriminated against. 

"At this point, we are allowing Red Lobster to investigate. Once we move forward we hope we can share more. Or maybe not share because Red Lobster will recognize this type of treatment of customers from a minority community, or those observing the month of Ramadan should not be treated in a manner like this,” said Hussein.

A spokesperson from Red Lobster issued a written statement to ABC 6 News that said, "We welcome everyone in our restaurants for a great seafood dining experience. All our guests should be treated equally and given the respect they deserve."

However, Red Lobster also said they could not share any information on specific incidents, as this is an open legal matter. 

As for Jackie, she says Rochester is still a beautiful community, "It doesn't matter what nationality, we got some good people here. And for that to be going on at a place that maybe all of Rochester's residents have visited at one point or another...we should never have to deal with that."

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