New Video Shows Blacks Forced to Prepay for Meal at Los Angeles Denny’s

This post has been updated.  All updates appear at the bottom.

 

Before you decide to go out for breakfast this weekend you should know that it seems that Denny’s Restaurant hasn’t learned their lesson when it comes to Black people.

On Monday, February 1, more commonly referred to as the first day of Black History Month, a trial is set to start in Los Angeles regarding yet another case of discrimination at Denny’s involving African-Americans.

In this case, a Black couple was forced to prepay for their meal at a Koreatown Denny’s.

The incident took place on May 7, 2014 at the Denny’s on Wilshire and Vermont in Los Angeles. Renee Hebert and Henry Williams–both African-American–placed an order but were required to prepay before getting served.  Apparently their waitress and manager were concerned over the amount of food ordered and thought they were going to dine and dash–a phrase used to describe people who come in and order food and leave without paying.

Ali Rahman, the manager of the Denny’s is a defendant in the lawsuit along with Denny’s, Inc. The restaurant where the incident occurred is a company-owned store and not a franchise.

In his deposition, Mr. Rahman admits repeatedly that he asked the couple to prepay and admits that he knew prepayment requests were not permitted under the anti-discrimination and equal accommodation policies. His reasoning according to his testimony is that he had a lapse in judgment and just wasn’t thinking.

Q. So Belkis was the server on May 7th, 2014. How many servers were on the video at that time, if you recall?
A. Three.
Q. Do you know the others’ names?
A. I don’t remember right now.
Q. And Belkis came over to you and said what?
A. Okay. So Belkis came and said that there’s two people that came and ordered a lot of food; and what else did she say to you?
A. Just so like, “What should I do? Should I send the order, or do you want to talk with them?”
Q. Okay. And what did you say?
A. Said we had two guests that are eating, and they ordered a lot of food for two people.
Q. Okay. And do you know why she told you that?
A. We have a few walk-outs, we call them, like people dump, order a lot of food, they don’t pay, and then they leave.
Q. Okay. So Belkis came and said that there’s two people that came and ordered a lot of food; and what else did she say to you?
A. Just so like, “What should I do? Should I send the order, or do you want to talk with them?”
Q. Okay. And what did you say?
A. “Okay. Let me go talk to them.”
Q. And did you go talk to them?

A. Yes.
Q. Okay. And can you describe happened? What did you say to them?
A. I just sat down, and I just how are you guys doing?” And, “You guys, ordered a lot of food, yeah, $80 of food.” So I said, “You ordered a lot of food. Would you like to make a payment before we get the food out to you?”

I honestly don’t even know why this lawsuit is going to trial and wasn’t settled.

As you may remember, Denny’s has a long and rich history of racial discrimination and previously paid $54 million to settle race bias cases under a federal consent decree. Part of the consent decree required Denny’s to implement policies and procedures that prohibit Denny’s from requesting prepayment of any customers.  I guess Mr. Rahman just choose to ignore that part.

Click here to read the complaint.

The trial is scheduled to start on Monday, February 1, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. in Division 51 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. The couple is being repped by attorney Jonathan Kaplan of Kaplan Weiss LLP.

UPDATE

2/1/2016

The defendant’s counsel (Denny’s) was denied a protective order aka gag order to keep the plaintiffs and their counsel from discussing the case out of court or with the news media.

The jury was selected.  The jury makeup looks like this:

  • 10 Females
  • 2 Males
  • 2 African-Americans
  • 3 Asians
  • 2 Armenians
  • 2 Latinos
  • 3 Whites

…and two female alternates.

Opening statements will take place at 10 a.m. in Department 51 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. There are plenty of open seats in the courtroom for those interested in this case.

2/2/2016

On day two of the trial Ali Rahman, the manager of Denny’s and a co-defendant in the lawsuit, along with Belkis Leyva, the waitress and Cyndy Crank Denny’s General Manager were all questioned by the plaintiff’s attorney.  On Wednesday, Ali Rahman, who already admitted in a deposition to asking the couple to prepay, will continue his testimony. Others expected to testify are Denny’s District Manager, HR Manager and an independent witness.  The trial may be in the hands of the jury as soon as Friday.

I’ll keep you posted.

2/3/2016

Okay folks so on the third day of trial the Denny’s manager Ali Rahman, who admitted that he asked the plaintiffs to prepay for their food, finished his testimony.  Other testimony included Denny’s General Manager who admitted that he did a limited investigation and failed to speak to the waitress or busboy on shift that night. Denny’s HR Manager and a psychiatrist also took the stand.

The most interesting testimony came from Brad Sax, an independent witness who didn’t know the plaintiffs but overheard the manager asking them to prepay for their food.  He testified that he knew that was wrong and gave them his phone number in case they needed a witness, which obviously they did.  Mr. Sax also testified that approximately two weeks later he was back at the same Denny’s when he saw another African-American being asked to prepay for their food.  This after Denny’s testified that it had never happened before the plaintiff’s incident and it hadn’t occurred since.

 2/4/2016

We saw this coming.  Denny’s has settled their lawsuit with the Black couple forced to prepay for food.

From City News Service…

LOS ANGELES – A black couple and Denny’s Inc. reached a mid-trial settlement Thursday in the pair’s lawsuit alleging the manager of the restaurant chain’s Koreatown location discriminated against them by demanding that they pay for their food in advance.

The resolution came just before the third day of testimony was scheduled to begin in trial of the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against Denny’s and manager Ali Rahman in August 2014 by Henry Williams and Renee Hebert. Judge Michael Raphael dismissed the jury hearing the case.

The couple declined to comment on the settlement, as did the lawyers on both sides, who said the terms were confidential.

The couple alleged Rahman, the manager of the Denny’s on Vermont Avenue just north of Wilshire Boulevard, targeted them because of their skin color.

Their lawyers said the pair entered the restaurant about 4:15 p.m. on May 7, 2014, and that no other customers were asked to pay in advance for their meals. They also said Williams and Hebert waited far longer than other guests to receive their food.

An internal restaurant video of the incident has been viewed more than 5,000 times since being uploaded to YouTube (that’d be me).

Michael Stein, an attorney for Denny’s and Rahman, said the manager made a mistake with his demand, apologized to the couple and offered to return the $80 Williams gave him.

He said Rahman was concerned after learning from the couple’s server about the size of their order, which totaled more than $83, because the Koreatown location had prior problems with people leaving without paying.

But lawyers for Williams and Hebert said the retraction of the pre-payment demand did not shield Rahman and the restaurant chain can escape liability because it violated both state law and Denny’s own internal rules.

In 1994, Denny’s agreed to pay more than $54 million to settle lawsuits filed by thousands of black customers who had been refused service or been forced to wait longer or pay more than white guests.

The Court of Public Opinion

  • morpheousx

    Denny’s just doesn’t learn…..We as black people need to hit these racist companies where it most hurts….in the pocket book!

    I’m sure they will win 100’s of thousands of dollars. They went in to buy 80.00 dollars worth of food and will most likely receive a couple hundred thousand for it. ^_^

  • Gabriel A Petrie

    They will probably win their lawsuit. I just wish I understood what damages they can show.

  • Dillon Fries

    no shit, give them each free meals for 5 years. Seems more appropiate than suing for 50 million dollars.

  • Drea1721

    That is not enough! They need to be compensated in a way that Denny’s gets the messages. They are NOT allow to discriminate!

  • Darrnell McCoy

    Denny’s On main Street in Manteca,Ca have done this to me and my wife myself Black and my wife black were forced to wait 45mins in an almost empty Denny’s because the waitress didn’t want to serve us , After Telling Management they did nothing and was part of this Profiling just against a person of color but against a U.S. Armed Forces Veteran

  • Inc.

    He’s finished. He can’t win. He admitted he was wrong and new it was wrong to ask to prepay.

  • Inc.

    WOW! Your part of the problem I see you God damn……..

  • Lorenzo

    $80 for two people at Denny’s is ridiculous. If the size of the order is what prompted the prepayment request and not the color of the potential perps, then Denny’s should be OK. My advice – don’t open any business near homie. In addition to the day to day thievery, he will eventually riot and rob or even burn down the business. You can’t win and you can’t shoot the bast4rds when they’re rioting.

  • Sandy Pfaff

    Isnt it sad though and sort of embarrassing to think businesses feel so “threatened” by certain sub groups in this society that they need to protect themselves in such a way???? Everything in life is NOT free!!!!! I worked at a Dennys when I was younger trying to survive with 4 small children of my own and certain groups of people came in …in LARGE groups after church and everyone knew this group was going to give you the run around…every order was going to be specific and not on the menu and everything you did was going to be scrutinized and this would continue for 2 hours because thats how long your table was going to be used for…pot after pot after pot of coffee would be poured…and at the end of it all…nothing but complaints…no tip…NOTHING…yet a couple in the next booth would sit down for half an hour and leave you 5 bucks and maybe you even gave them not so great service because you were dealing with the table that gave you a hard time…do I feel sorry if people are treated the way they treat others????? NOPE…not all it.. you reap what you sow in this life. Deal with it!!!!!!

  • Sandy Pfaff

    You as Black people need to stop shitting on other people just because of the color of your skin…Obama lead you down the wrong road and its about to come to a dead end…deal with it. NOBODY owes you!!!!! We all free!!!!!

  • Ashleigh

    So because you had a bad experience you want to treat everyone like that? You sound old and dumb. I’ve had a white person call me nigger and try to fight me while I was getting to work. Should I treat all of you the same? No, grow up.

  • Ashley

    You work in food service. Lol and your complaining. Go to college and get a job where you don’t have to work for tips. If you haven’t learned in your years at the bottom every race is going to have cool people and not so cool people. I bet you got stiffed on the tip from Asians and white people and everyone else but you wanna single out one group cause you’re mad. How old are we?

  • Dadd Spyduh-Mayne Jones

    You as a white person need to check your priviledge.. Obama Is Americas president not the leader of all black people..

    Stop discriminating against minorities and, people won’t complain..

  • sharoncullars

    you are an idiotic racist.

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