Cell phone video taken inside J. Alexander’s shows the moments after a woman allegedly was denied service due to her race last Thursday in West Bloomfield.
Attorney Maurice Davis has filed a class action lawsuit against the restaurant, representing the woman.
“This kind of behavior is archaic racism reminiscent of black men and women in the 1950s,” he said.
It all started when Liah Gant says she was sitting at the bar and was asked to give up her seat for two white men. When she refused, she claims the bartender denied her service and poured her drink down the sink.
“I had done nothing wrong, it made me feel invisible. It made me feel I didn’t deserve to be there,” Gant said. “I immediately got up and went to management. She said that I shouldn’t be upset because a drink wasn’t thrown on me.”
When a black customer tried to stand up for Gant and her friend, a white customer began yelling at him – and then threw food at him. Gant was recording.
West Bloomfield police were called but Mr. Davis claims the management protected the white customer, helping him leave through the back.
“That manager chose to decide to say it is ok to be racist toward your black patrons, it is okay to deny them service, to deny them their basic humanity,” Davis said.
That same night another black customer, Jerrick Jefferson, who had never met Gant before, was there celebrating his anniversary with his wife. He said they had horrible service and tried to talk to the manager about it.
“The manager, she was totally dismissive of our concerns when I brought up I thought we were racially profiled based on observations with how they interacted with white patrons. She simply said ‘I am walking away,'” Jefferson said.
He said a man came out, called him the n-word and told them to go home.
“This isn’t coincidental; this restaurant has a culture of racism,” Jefferson said.
J. Alexander’s issued a statement which called it an unfortunate incident that their staff tried to diffuse. They say they have a strict non-discrimination policy and do not tolerate any inappropriate behavior from guests or staff.
“They should be terminated, because I feel that today I should be able to walk into a restaurant and order whatever I want, I shouldn’t be forced to get out of my seat,” she said.
Davis said police have identified the suspect and assigned a detective to the case.