The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Save Your Receipts! Racial Slur on Hooters Receipt Leads to Lawsuit

We hope the receipt that Philadelphia man Kisuk Cha received from a New York City Hooters restaurant was not for a business meal, as it's probably something he would like to forget. The receipt has now become the basis for a lawsuit against the Hooters chain, according to CBS 3.

Cha claims that when he was at Hooters with his girlfriend, he noticed a server glancing at the computer and then at his table while giggling. Once he received the check he noticed that in the place meant to identify the customer the word "chinx" had been printed, according to the New York Daily News. Once Cha filed his lawsuit, the employee (not the named server on the receipt) who typed in the description admitted to the deed and resigned.

Will Cha's racial discrimination case succeed?

In general, racial discrimination suits can only be brought against a person's employer, or an agent of the state or federal government. This means that discrimination by most private actors is not illegal, even if it is in poor taste.

However, during the civil rights movement there were cases that helped place public accommodations within the scope of civil rights laws. The concept behind this is that public accommodations like hotels and restaurants participate in interstate commerce (by attracting clientele and working with vendors from various states, for example) and thus could be regulated by Congress and federal civil-rights laws.

Since Hooters is a restaurant operating in interstate commerce, it is governed by civil-rights laws. Discrimination suits can be filed against a restaurant when it has failed to properly accommodate or serve a customer based on his actual or perceived race.

Here's what Cha's Hooters receipts looked like, according to the New York Daily News:

Receipt in Question

Based on the receipts and the Hooters employee's admission to using the racial slur, it certainly seems like Cha has been treated differently because of his race. However, the amount of damages will be difficult to estimate given the sparse facts of the case. We'll have to wait and see how the case turns out.

Related Resources: