Members of a black sorority are suing a Cleveland restaurant and staff members who they say racially discriminated against them by calling the police.
Chandra Law Firm LLC filed the suit Monday in Cuyahoga County court. The complaint stems from an incident in June at the Bahama Breeze in Beachwood, and includes claims of public accommodation, discrimination and making false alarms.
The lawsuit alleges restaurant managers falsely told police that a group of African-American customers were threatening to leave without paying their bill and causing a disturbance.
Subodh Chandra, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said there was no need for the managers to call police. His clients were simply asking for their checks, he said, and Bahama Breeze staff racially profiled them.
In the 911 call, a manager requests police presence for “unruly guests.”
“If you describe it as ‘unruly’ instead of simply asking for better treatment and to be provided with the checks that they had requested, then I guess we’re all unruly when we ask for service at a restaurant,” Chandra said. “But there was nothing untoward, shouting or physical behavior or anything that would have justified a call to 911 and police intervention.”
Chandra added that the plaintiffs are respected in the community, and many are members of the Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Inc. sorority.
In 2009, 37 black workers at that same Bahama Breeze sued the restaurant for racial harassment. The company settled for $1.26 million dollars.
Florida-based Darden Restaurants, which owns Bahama Breeze, says "everyone is welcome in our restaurants, and we strive to provide an exceptional experience for all our guests."