A black female restaurant patron has filed a class-action lawsuit against a Detroit-area restaurant alleging that she was the victim of racial discrimination.
The woman, Liah Gant, says that she was forced to give up her seat for white customers.
What are the details?
Gant said the incident took place last week at J. Alexander's in West Bloomfield, Michigan.
Gant said that she was sitting at the establishment's bar when the bartender reportedly asked her to relinquish her seat to allow two white men to sit down.
Gant said that she refused, and accused the bartender of dumping her drinks and telling her to leave. The matter was reportedly referred to a manager, who reportedly offered her a new seat in the dining area. Gant said that the manager went on to tell her that she shouldn't be upset.
"[T]hat's when I was like, OK, I wanted to pull out my phone and record in that moment," Gant said. When she began to do so, Gant said the manager advised her against filming, and reportedly got "loud." According to Gant, a scuffle broke out when a fellow black patron attempted to intervene.
Gant said that she was physically removed from the restaurant, and pointed out that the white customers were "protected" inside the restaurant.
"It's been a very traumatic experience," Gant said. "And then as I'm exiting the restaurant, to be physically pushed out by staff, while someone [else] is protected, that's called me … [the] b-word, saying F-you and all types of things, it just shows that no matter how innocent you are, no matter how innocent I was, I was still not protected. They chose to protect that other individual, and that deeply saddens me."
What did the restaurant say?
The restaurant vehemently denied the allegations, and insisted that they possess surveillance footage to back up their response.
According to Fox News, the restaurant shared an initial statement on the matter on Facebook, in which representatives said that the establishment was the target of false racial discrimination allegations.
In a statement provided to the outlet, J. Alexander's said, "The recent allegations of racial discrimination by a guest at our West Bloomfield location on June 20 are false. Surveillance video clearly shows that the female guest making the charge of discrimination was not asked to give up her seat for white guests."
"The female guest was trying to save a seat for a friend who had not yet arrived, and she was informed that seats in the pub area could not be saved," the statement continued. "She was offered a table for herself and her party in the main dining area, but declined, insisting that she stay in the pub area. Surveillance video clearly shows this female guest remains in her seat in the pub area for more than an hour enjoying beverages and dining with two acquaintances."
The statement also explained that a second black guest was "shouting" in a "disruptive manner" at management, as well as hurling profane insults.
"As he and his family were leaving the restaurant, surveillance video shows that another patron – not a restaurant employee - threw a container of food from a take-out order at the male guest and his party," the company's statement continued. "According to surveillance video, the patron who threw the container of food later left the restaurant through the front door after employees attempted to separate the two parties and diffuse the altercation to the best of their ability."
"J. Alexander's Restaurant has consistently adhered to a set of non-discriminatory standards that are as comprehensive as any in our industry," the statement concluded. "We are proud of our track record of non-discrimination during the 21 years we have been a member of the community and look forward to continuing to serve our guests with outstanding food and service."