PANTEGO 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 plaintiffs were college students home for the holidays when they dined and relaxed 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 Ragheed, who they noticed “was acting weird and strange throughout the night,” for their checks to be separated, according to the lawsuit.
When they got their receipts, they each saw a racial slur in the space where the customer’s name or identification would go, according to the lawsuit.
They are each seeking $1 million in damages.
“As a minority, I can’t think of anything more egregious,” said Darian Conston, an African-American attorney who is representing the six.
In a 2015 article in USA Today, 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 the article. “That’s why when I found out, on the spot, I terminated him … on the spot.”
Lead attorney Michael Campbell said he gave the owner a substantial amount of time to respond to phone calls as well as a demand letter sent about a year ago, but has not received a response.
Although others may view the slur as a term that does not have the same effect anymore, it was used to demonize and ridicule people of African descent, Campbell said.
All six were “shocked, stunned, mortified, humiliated and severely distressed causing immediate mental anguish, emotional distress, extreme embarrassment and anger,” according to the lawsuit.
When they asked Ragheed about the receipts, the server told them he didn’t mean anything by it, according to the article in USA Today.
“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