A black woman wants restaurant employees fired as she says they made her give up her seats for two white men.
The incident allegedly occurred in a J. Alexander’s restaurant in West Bloomfield, Michigan, on June 20, when Lia Gant was sat at the bar waiting for a friend.
Gant recalled what happened in a press conference the following Monday (June 24), claiming the bartender pointed to the seat she occupied and told two white men, who were looking for a seat, they could sit there.
She alleged the bartender also threw away her drink and refused to serve her. Gant asked the manager for assistance but was reportedly told she shouldn’t be upset ‘because the drink was not thrown on [her]’.
Commenting on the situation, Gant said:
I was racially profiled. I was told to move out of my seat for two other white men to be seated.
Another customer of colour reportedly stood up to support Gant, which prompted a white patron to throw food at the supportive man and call him the N-word. Management then allegedly called the police.
Gant shared videos from the incident on Facebook, showing her being ushered out of the restaurant by a white woman:
Gant was joined at the press conference by her lawyer Maurice Davis as well as another customer named Jerrick Jackson, who said he was also discriminated against on the same day as Gant when a white patron called him the N-word and told him to leave after he complained to management about poor service.
Davis believes restaurant management failed to protect his clients from the people who were ‘hurling racist insults’.
The lawyer said:
This type of behavior is archaic racism, reminiscent of the black men and women of the 1950s.
Our civil rights leaders fought for over a century to secure and preserve black citizens’ right to have a seat at the table, and we refuse to backslide to a nation where black people are told to give up their seat to white people.
WATCH LIVE: Attorneys speak after woman claims she was refused service at J. Alexander in West Bloomfield & ordered to give up her seat to two white men.
Posted by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 on Monday, June 24, 2019
Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle, Davis said Gant would not be suing but instead they are focused on obtaining justice and ensuring this doesn’t happen to anyone else.
J. Alexander refuses to take corporate responsibility for its employees’ actions and has not reached out to counsel.
Right now our primary focus is demanding the immediate termination of the J. Alexander employee that refused to serve our client.
According to WXYZ News, J. Alexander’s has since released a statement on the matter, saying:
Since opening our doors in West Bloomfield more than 21 years ago, J. Alexander’s Restaurant has offered the highest quality food and professional service in a safe, respectful and welcoming environment. We have always adhered to a strict non-discrimination policy for all our restaurant staff and guests to ensure the best possible working and dining environment. This includes treating every customer with the same non-discriminatory service. We do not tolerate any diversion from this policy and likewise do not tolerate any inappropriate behavior from either guests or employees.
On June 20, our staff and many of our guests experienced an unfortunate incident that disrupted the otherwise pleasant dining environment in our West Bloomfield restaurant. Our staff made every responsible effort to safely diffuse this incident in the face of profanity and acts of misbehavior directed at them. None of our employees used profanity, made racial remarks or threw food but certain guests did. Ironically, two of those guests involved in this incident have falsely accused our staff of racial discrimination.
The statement continued:
The West Bloomfield police were called in during this incident to assist with the unruly behavior of certain guests. Any guest who threw food or was otherwise disruptive was asked to leave. Working with police, our staff made certain that every guest left the restaurant through the front door of the restaurant. We have turned the security surveillance video over to the West Bloomfield police. We will remain in close contact with the police department as we await a report on their investigation and their determination as to whether any formal charges related to this behavior are warranted.
We are grateful to have been a part of West Bloomfield for more than two decades, and we look forward to continuing to serve our guests with a pleasant dining experience.
Police have reportedly identified a suspect and assigned a detective to the case.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.