ROCHESTER, Minn. – A Muslim advocacy group is blasting a national restaurant chain for what it calls “harsh treatment” of an Islamic family.
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-M N) says a Muslim family went to a Red Lobster restaurant in Rochester and were treated poorly. CAIR-MN is alleging the family requested water to break their Ramadan fast but did not receive any for at least 30 minutes after several requests to different servers were made. CAIR-MN also claims when the family complained and raised the issue of possible bias in their treatment, they were reportedly told: “You people love to play the race card whenever you can.”
CAIR-MN also accuses the manager of the restaurant, after the family said it would complain to corporate headquarters, of saying: “Go ahead and call them. It’s going to be your word against mine. They won’t believe you.” A server is also alleged to have said: “I know all about Ramadan. A Muslim hit my car the other day because she was too hungry to drive in Ramadan. I almost got injured because of Ramadan.”
“It is unconscionable that a family seeking to observe their religious principles would be so harshly treated by those paid to serve the public and who are legally bound to offer that service without discrimination,” said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Attorney Ellen Longfellow.
CAIR-MN says it has written a letter to Red Lobster corporate officials accusing the company of violating Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The organization says it is seeking a written apology, compensation which would be donated to charity, updated anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies, and sensitivity training for Red Lobster employees.
In response to the claims of CAIR-MN, a Red Lobster spokesperson issued the following statement: “We welcome everyone in our restaurants for a great seafood dining experience. All our guests should be treated equally and given the respect they deserve. Since this is an open legal matter, I can’t share any additional information at this time.”