A black Multnomah County, Ore., sheriff's deputy is filing a discrimination lawsuit against a local restaurant after, he says, he was made to prepay for his meal even though white customers were not asked to do the same, The Oregonian reports.
Brian Eason has filed a $100,000 discrimination suit against a Vancouver, Wash., Elmer's Restaurant franchise and its parent company, Karsan Inc., for the incident, which allegedly took place Dec. 16, 2014.
Eason, who is also a real estate agent, had gone to Elmer's to find somewhere quiet to eat and where he could write Christmas cards for his clients. When he ordered, the waiter "demanded that he prepay for his meal," the lawsuit reads, according to the news site.
"I was kind of curious about it and said, 'Well, is that new?' And she said, 'Yes, we had a few walk-aways and my boss asked me to ask for prepayment," Eason told The Oregonian.
Eason shrugged it off, but when he ordered another drink and the waitress again asked him to prepay for it, he became concerned.
"I said, 'This is kind of odd that I have to prepay every time I order my food and drink,' " Eason recalled. "She said, 'I think it's discrimination and my boss is here, and she's forcing me to have me do this.' "
The waitress seemed so sorry that Eason ended up leaving her a big tip and one of the $10 Starbucks cards that he had planned to give his clients. But he again became concerned about his treatment, so he went back to the restaurant about a half-hour later and asked two white people who were dining if they had been asked to prepay for their food. They said no. Eason asked for their names and numbers, which they gave him.
An Elmer's representative said that the company was "actively looking" into the incident.
"At Elmer's, we are proud to provide a welcoming Guest experience to everyone in the communities we serve," wrote Jill Ramos, the chain's director of restaurant support. "We are disappointed to hear about the complaint which occurred at one of our franchise-operated restaurants."
As for Eason, he said that he has "suffered loss of sleep" and has since had "feelings of racial stigmatization."
"My office is right down the street there," Eason said. "It's a constant reminder of 'They don't want me in there.' "
Read more at The Oregonian.