With the help of ClassAction.com attorneys, Frantz Leger of Florida has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against Mi Colombia Bakery, Inc., parent company of the Los Perros chain of fast food restaurants. Mr. Leger, who is black, says he was handed a receipt at a Los Perros that referred to him with a racial slur. The restaurant denies discriminating against Mr. Leger and blames Autocorrect for the slur.
The complaint, filed in the Southern District Court of Florida, alleges that on July 2, 2015 Mr. Leger experienced racial discrimination at Los Perros’ Miami Beach location. The complaint includes an alleged copy of the receipt, which shows the slur next to both the table and order number.
On March 18, 2016, Mr. Leger filed a racial discrimination charge with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR). Mi Colombia owner Juan Hoyos denied the charge and offered a rebuttal, but on September 19, the FCHR determined that reasonable cause existed that an unlawful practice occurred, and advised Mr. Leger that he could file a civil suit.
A little over a week later, Mr. Leger did just that. The attorney who filed the complaint, Michael Hanna, said, “It’s sad that in this day and age we still see the type of discrimination alleged in the Complaint.” Mr. Hanna adds:
“Unfortunately ignorance persists and there are still people out there that think that others should be treated differently just because of their race, religion, or sex. We will not stand for this type of injustice. Thankfully our laws make this type of conduct illegal.”
Complaint Says Discrimination Was Intentional
Among other charges, the complaint alleges the following:
- That the racial discrimination was intentional.
- That as a result of this discrimination, Los Perros denied Mr. Leger the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, and accommodations of its restaurant, and furthermore intended to discourage him from revisiting the restaurant because of his race.
- That calling Mr. Leger a racial slur creates a hostile environment.
- That the defendant did nothing to remedy its discrimination.
The complaint also says that Mr. Leger was “disgusted, humiliated, and appalled” by the incident, and notes that the threat of repeated injury exists, “causing Plaintiff and other black individuals to… continue to suffer irreparable injury in the denial of their civil rights.”
Mr. Leger was “disgusted, humiliated, and appalled” by the incident.
Mr. Leger seeks an injunction against the illegal discrimination, compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees, and any other relief available under the applicable civil rights statutes.
A Case of Autocorrect Gone Wrong?
In his written response to the March 2016 FCHR discrimination charge, Mi Colombia owner Juan Hoyos argued the following:
- The company never refused accommodation or service to Mr. Leger and therefore did not violate state law.
- The server never vocally called Mr. Leger a racial slur.
- The server did not call Mr. Leger a racial slur “on multiple occasions” because it was allegedly written on just one receipt.
Mr. Hoyos also said that after “exhaustive investigation,” there was only one logical explanation for what occurred on July 2: “the system autocorrected” Mr. Leger’s last name to the slur.
Server No Longer Works at Restaurant
According to Mr. Hoyos’ response, Mr. Leger called the restaurant the day after the incident to explain what had happened the night before. He also asked to speak to the server who had waited on him.
The server was “shocked,” according to Mr. Hoyos. A few days later, when she came in for her next shift, the server “quit because she didn’t feel good” about the call she had received from Mr. Leger.
The server “quit because she didn’t feel good” about the call she had received from Mr. Leger.
According to Mr. Hoyos, the restaurant performed a thorough review of Los Perros’ security footage and the transaction record and found no evidence of discrimination.
But the FCHR determined that there appeared to be enough evidence to justify a lawsuit, and now Mr. Leger and Mr. Hoyos will head to court.