Arlington

Receipts with racial slur prompt lawsuit against Pantego restaurant

One of the receipts at the restaurant that led to the filing of a lawsuit.
One of the receipts at the restaurant that led to the filing of a lawsuit. The Campbell Firm

Six young African-American adults are suing a Pantego restaurant owner and one of his former employees, saying they found a racial slur on their receipts early New Year’s Day 2015.

The three men and three women were college students home for the holidays when they dined at Shatila Restaurant Lebanese Grill and Hookah Lounge on West Pioneer Parkway.

After spending some of their New Year’s Eve 2014 at church, they arrived at the restaurant after midnight and ordered food and hookah from an employee who was later identified as “Ragheed” on their receipts, according to the lawsuit.

They finished about 2:30 a.m. Jan. 1, 2015, and asked the server — who they noticed “was acting weird and strange throughout the night” — for separate checks, according to the lawsuit.

After paying and the server returned their receipts, they noticed a racial slur — the n-word followed by a number — printed in the space where the customer’s name or identification would go, according to the lawsuit.

They are requesting a jury trial and seeking $1 million each in damages, according to the suit, filed Dec. 30 in Tarrant County. The suit claims the restaurant’s owner was negligent in hiring the server, racial discrimination against the six students and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

The suit describes the n-word as an “ethnic slur, usually directed at black people. It is often used derogatorily ...”

The six students were “shocked, stunned, mortified, humiliated and severely distressed causing immediate mental anguish, emotional distress, extreme embarrassment and anger,” according to the lawsuit.

“As a minority, I can’t think of anything more egregious,” said Darian Conston, an African-American attorney who is helping represent the six.

Not long after the incident, Mike Salame, the owner of the restaurant, said the server, whom he described as an 18-year-old of Syrian descent, worked there for a week and received two other complaints.

“It’s very, very improper,” Salame said in numerous media reports, including WFAA and USA Today. “That’s why when I found out, on the spot, I terminated him … on the spot.”

Salame did not return phone calls or emails from the Star-Telegram.

When they asked Ragheed about the receipts, the server told them he didn’t mean anything by it, according to media reports.

“To me, the most devastating result was it killed their optimism,” Conston said. “The glass is no longer half-full; it is half-empty for them.”

Rafael Sears: 817-390-7657, @searsrafael

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