Black customer who received “N-word” receipts settles with restaurant

February 15, 2012

The Landmark Steakhouse in Corona del Mar, California. (Landmarknewport.com)A California restaurant has settled a federal discrimination lawsuit filed by a black customer, who reportedly received receipts using the N-Word. The settlement is just the latest bit of cultural controversy to hit the restaurant industry in recent months.

Orange County Weekly reports that restaurant patron Mark McHenry had been a regular at the Landmark Steakhouse in Corona del Mar for several years ago. McHenry says employees at the restaurant had made somewhat uncomfortable comments to him previously, such as, “black is the new white,” but that he nonetheless continued to patronize the establishment.

However, on December 5th, 2010, McHenry visited Landmark twice in the same day. He received three receipts, all containing racist language. Written on the receipts were the derogatory names, “McStinkyN*gger,” “McNigS*it,” and “McCottonwood.”

You can view one of the offending receipts here.

MSNBC followed up on the story and obtained copies of three text messages sent from a Landmark bartender, who is white, to McHenry:

In one voicemail, the bartender said: “Yo Mark. Hey it’s [NAME WITHHELD]. Give me a call when you get a chance man. Just wanted to apologize for that tab, dude. You know we were totally jokin’ around.”

In a follow-up text message, the bartender said: “I know I made a big mistake by crossing the line. I have a family mortgage that depend on me.”

In another text message on Christmas Eve, he said: “merry christmas! hope to see you soon. we miss you! please forgive us for being stupid. its not the same without you there. luv u bud!”

McHenry’s attorney Stuars Shanus told msnbc.com he and his client are not disclosing terms of the settlement and Landmark Steakhouse has declined requests for comment as well. However, court documents show the bartender who sent the messages to McHenry was fired a week after the lawsuit was first fired last March.

The incident is only the most recent racially based case to emerge from the food industry this year. In January, Papa John’s Pizza apologized after an employee gave a receipt to an Asian customer which read, “lady chinky eyes.” And just a month before that, Chick-fil-A, better known for filing its own lawsuits, fired a cashier who put the racial insults “Ching” and “Chong” on the receipts of two Asian customers at one of its California-based restaurants. And also in January, McDonald’s suffered a PR headache when someone pulled a racial hoax by placing discriminatory signs online, falsely asserting that they were posted in an actual McDonald’s restaurant.

And while it isn’t a case of racial discrimination, a San Diego resident with one arm is suing Starbucks over alleged misconduct. Eli Pierre says Starbucks “blatantly” discriminated against him for being physically disabled when he applied for a job at a local outlet owned by the coffee chain.

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