Lambda Legal filed a complaint Tuesday in the Washington, D.C., Office of Human Rights on behalf of Amira Gray, a transgender woman who was given a restaurant receipt with an anti-LGBT slur printed on it while socializing with friends at Bistro 18, a hookah bar in Washington’s Adams Morgan neighborhood.
“Discrimination against LGBT customers is a widespread problem that often goes unaddressed in businesses across the country. That this happened in Washington, D.C., where LGBT people have strong protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and personal appearance, points out the importance of ensuring existing laws are enforced,” said Dru Levasseur, Lambda Legal Transgender Rights Project Director. “By standing up for herself and her friends, Amira is taking a stand for all LGBT people who are targeted by businesses for unequal treatment because of who they are.”
On August 11, 2013, Amira Gray went to Bistro 18 with eight friends. The group seated themselves and eventually had to approach the bar to order, while other tables were being served. During the evening, the server came to the party’s table only once to deliver the hookah machine the group had ordered at the bar.
At the end of the night, the bartender dropped off the check, which had the words “GAY BITCHES” printed where the customer’s name would be written. When one of Gray’s friends approached the manager to bring this to his attention, the manager snatched what he thought was the offending receipt out of the man’s hands and printed a new receipt without the slur on it. However, Gray’s friend kept the original receipt and captured photos of it.
Lambda Legal filed a public accommodations discrimination complaint under the DC Human Rights Act (DCHRA) arguing that Bistro 18 violated the DC Human Rights Act by discriminating against Gray based on her actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex in a place of public accommodation.
“When my friends and I saw the receipt, we were humiliated and embarrassed,” Gray said. “We went in planning to enjoy Bistro 18 just like everyone else in the hookah bar that evening, but it turned into a disturbing experience. I am standing up for my friends and me because I don’t think anyone should have to go through that.”
Read the complaint here.