Civil Rights & Constitutional Law
African-American diners file race-discrimination suit against Bahama Breeze
September 10, 2018
Sunday, June 30, 2019
Cleveland, OH – In February 2019, Loronz Gray went to his local Boost Mobile retailer in Cleveland to buy a phone charger. At first blush, it was an ordinary encounter. Mr. Gray found the charger, paid the cashier for it, and left the store. But then he looked closely at his receipt, specifically the "SOLD TO" line—and the experience changed.
Loronz Gray's Boost Mobile receipt, calling him a "Real N——."
The Boost Mobile store, owned by United Prepaid Wireless and located at 16122 Lakeshore Blvd. in Cleveland, gave Mr. Gray a receipt that identified him with the most offensive racial slur in the English language—a slur so appalling it’s only referred to as “the nword.”
Mr. Gray is African-American; the Boost Mobile cashier that day is not.
Race discrimination in public accommodations violates both state and federal law. Represented by The Chandra Law Firm, Mr. Gray pursued a discrimination charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. The Commission investigated, and the Boost Mobile store never disputed that its employee created the receipt. Rather it claimed that Mr. Gray had not experienced “actual discrimination” because he was able to buy the charger. To the store, as long as a transaction is completed, it does not matter how many times the n-word or any other racial slur is uttered. It is not discriminatory.
Fortunately, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission rejected this position.
Based on its investigation, the Commission on June 27, 2019 found in Mr. Gray’s favor. It determined it was probable that the store had engaged in unlawful discrimination, finding that:
[T]he terms and conditions of [Mr. Gray’s] access to the Respondent’s place of public accommodation was altered by this discriminatory act and he was denied ‘full enjoyment’ of the facilities or services in a manner that was connected to race.
Chandra Law's Patrick Haney, who represented Mr. Gray, said, “The n-word is the linguistic embodiment of racial animus. It has no place in any store, business, or other place of public accommodation.”