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  #1  
Old 11-13-2003, 09:36 AM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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"We reserve the right to refuse service... ": Legal?

In most places of business, there's a sign that says something to the effect of "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any, or no, reason whatsoever." That always made sense to me: It's their business, their money, and their feet (to shoot off as they please). Besides, it's a nice `out' to enable them to eject the unruly (but not quite lawbreaking) yahoos who might otherwise infest their property.

But how would it hold up in a court of law? I'm talking civil suits here, mainly, but any criminal law Dopers would know is, of course, welcome. If a restaurant owner got a bug up her bum and decided to summarily eject all african-americans, what could the ejected do about it? (I know what I'd do — boycott, and stage a sit-in — but that's neither here nor there.) What if it was heavily storming outside and the proprietor forced someone out into blowing hail and hurricaine-force winds?

I'm assuming that the right to property is nearly absolute, but I want to verify my suppositions here.
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  #2  
Old 11-13-2003, 10:25 AM
sailor sailor is offline
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You can refuse service as long as it is not for a reason which has been made illegal (like race).
  #3  
Old 11-13-2003, 10:37 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is online now
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You can choose who you sell to, as long as your choices aren't discriminatory by law.

Rule of thumb: if it's something the person has no control over -- race, ethnic group, disability -- then you can't refuse service on that basis.

You can, however, refuse because someone smokes, is drunk, is abusive, doesn't wear shoes or a shirt,* etc.

It gets complicated if there is race involved. If you kicked out an Asian customer because he was harassing one of your employees, there's a chance he might claim racial discrimination and you'd end up with a lawsuit. Your chances depend on how well you can document the reason you refused service.

*In most states, this isn't a board of health regulation, BTW.
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  #4  
Old 11-13-2003, 10:40 AM
Otto Otto is offline
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IANAL etc. The right to refuse service ends when it intersects with civil rights laws. Restaurants, stores, etc. are "places of public accomodation." A merchant who refuses service to someone on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation (where applicable) or other protected class has violated either federal or state (or both) law. S/he can't point to the sign on the wall that says "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" to excuse the violation. This is known as a "pretext." The government has restricted the merchant's right to refuse service on the basis of those protected classes.

Should the merchant summarily refuse service to all African-Americans, the affected patrons and the federal or state government (or combinations of the three) can file civil action against the merchant. check out www.eeoc.gov for more information on the process. The merchant could refuse to open her doors during a hurricane but the excluded person, if injured, could possibly have a cause of civil action against her and there could possibly be criminal penalties also if it can be proved that the merchant had reckless disregard for the patron's life or safety.
  #5  
Old 11-13-2003, 12:22 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
protected class
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the usual legal term is "suspect class," meaning not that the person who is a member of this class is suspect, but that the very act of creating such a class is suspect (in the eyes of the law).
  #6  
Old 11-13-2003, 12:50 PM
lembranca lembranca is offline
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I believe both terms are correct, there is no distinction. It really would be what claim you are making and what is defined in the appropriate statute. If one is making a discrimination claim under the ADA then a disabled individual would be considered a protected or suspect class. Where I think the difference lies is the level of scrutiny. For example a 1983 claim on the basis of race would be held under what the courts deem as "strict scrutiny" whereas a gender discrimination claim under the same act would be under intermediate scrutiny.
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Old 11-13-2003, 04:33 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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I think people get confused because the foget the term (otto brought up) "Public Accommodation." Clearly there are restricted clubs. These are not public and CAN discriminate against race or sex.
  #8  
Old 11-13-2003, 04:38 PM
Duderdude2 Duderdude2 is offline
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What about religion? One has full whether they're religious or not , yet I believe that it's illegal to discriminate against that. So could I conceivably kick out a Mariner's fan out of my establishment, but be legally liable for kicking out a Christian (to be, there's no difference between the two)?
  #9  
Old 11-13-2003, 04:41 PM
Duderdude2 Duderdude2 is offline
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Edited Post:

What about religion? One has full control whether they're religious or not , yet I believe that it's illegal to discriminate against that. So could I conceivably kick a Mariner's fan out of my establishment, but be legally liable for kicking out a Christian (to me, there's no difference between the two)?
  #10  
Old 11-13-2003, 05:18 PM
lembranca lembranca is offline
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You are correct in places that are truly private can discriminate, especially private clubs. Of course that is assuming that these clubs are not involved in activities that the federal government (i.e. interstate commerce, etc) or that the state can attach to an applicable statute or regulation.

What I found paradoxical is when the federal government itself is the source of the "discrimination" An example of this is the Solomon Act. Where I'm from (Minnesota) sexual orientation is considered protected under the state's human rights act. A few years ago, the JAG corp were banned from recruiting at my old law school because the "gays in the military" issue was contrary to Minnesota (and the school's) discrimination policies. In response, the federal government threatened to pull its financial aid funds. The school eventually backed down. I always thought this was an interesting example of federal power trumping the state (through the use of tax dollars)
  #11  
Old 11-13-2003, 05:33 PM
Flash-57 Flash-57 is offline
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> I always thought this was an interesting example of
> federal power trumping the state (through the use of
> tax dollars)

Well, I guess that's one of the downsides to lining up at the old food trough waiting for handouts. If you want the government to give you free money, you have to put up with a few strings attached.

That's like the old soup kitchens. You have to listen to the sermon first if you want the free food afterwards.
  #12  
Old 11-13-2003, 05:41 PM
Flash-57 Flash-57 is offline
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> I always thought this was an interesting example of
> federal power trumping the state (through the use of
> tax dollars)

Well, I guess that's one of the downsides to lining up at the old food trough waiting for handouts. If you want the government to give you free money, you have to put up with a few strings attached.

That's like the old soup kitchens. You have to listen to the sermon first if you want the free food afterwards.
  #13  
Old 11-13-2003, 05:55 PM
lembranca lembranca is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Flash-57
> I always thought this was an interesting example of
> federal power trumping the state (through the use of
> tax dollars)

Well, I guess that's one of the downsides to lining up at the old food trough waiting for handouts. If you want the government to give you free money, you have to put up with a few strings attached.

That's like the old soup kitchens. You have to listen to the sermon first if you want the free food afterwards.
Hmm...so i guess i don't have to pay back my student loans huh?
  #14  
Old 11-13-2003, 07:14 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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Quote:
What about religion? One has full control whether they're religious or not , yet I believe that it's illegal to discriminate against that. So could I conceivably kick a Mariner's fan out of my establishment, but be legally liable for kicking out a Christian (to me, there's no difference between the two)?
Mariners fans are free to petition the government to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of Mariners fanship and if they are successful then it will become illegal to engage in such discrimination. As a society we tend to assign less importance to sports fanship than we do to to religion (what with the First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty).

Quote:
the Solomon Act.
There are a couple of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the Solomon amendment. Law schools, professors and students are claiming that being forced to admit military recruiters in violation of the schools' anti-discrimination policies.
Quote:
Well, I guess that's one of the downsides to lining up at the old food trough waiting for handouts. If you want the government to give you free money, you have to put up with a few strings attached.
Those strings can't violate the Constitution.
  #15  
Old 11-13-2003, 10:21 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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"And the sign said long-haired freaky-lookin' people need not apply."
  #16  
Old 09-04-2013, 11:13 PM
Randy Lee Randy Lee is offline
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The government will continue its assault on the free agency of individuals until they finally discover that if they place a sign conspicously near the door that reads PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENT, WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE FOR ANY REASON INCLUDING THOSE WE DEEM PERSONAL AND PRIVATE. It is only necessary to overcome the presumption that the establishment is a public accommodation for one to be able to exercise their right to engage in selective service.
  #17  
Old 09-04-2013, 11:37 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
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Not sure what to say to that,exactly, so I'll just ask a question.

I've never owned a business, but is there generally anything on a business license that tends to establish that the licensee is running either a place of public accommodation, or a "private establishment?"
  #18  
Old 09-05-2013, 12:18 AM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Lee View Post
The government will continue its assault on the free agency of individuals until they finally discover that if they place a sign conspicously near the door that reads PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENT, WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE FOR ANY REASON INCLUDING THOSE WE DEEM PERSONAL AND PRIVATE. It is only necessary to overcome the presumption that the establishment is a public accommodation for one to be able to exercise their right to engage in selective service.
This sounds very Sovereign Citizen Magic Gibberish to me.
  #19  
Old 09-05-2013, 12:31 AM
blue infinity blue infinity is offline
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Hi Randy

How did your campaign for district 2 go?
  #20  
Old 09-05-2013, 01:10 AM
jackdavinci jackdavinci is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto View Post
There are a couple of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the Solomon amendment. Law schools, professors and students are claiming that being forced to admit military recruiters in violation of the schools' anti-discrimination policies.
Those strings can't violate the Constitution.
Isn't this kind of pointless now that the ban on gays in the military has been lifted?
  #21  
Old 09-05-2013, 01:20 AM
usedtobe usedtobe is offline
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Oh look - a brand new member digging up a zombie to post FMoL nonsense.

How unusual!

Wonder if he'll also find a dead thread to revive by sharing his One True Religion?
No, not that one, not that one - you know, the TRUE one!
  #22  
Old 09-05-2013, 01:21 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackdavinci View Post
Isn't this kind of pointless now that the ban on gays in the military has been lifted?
Otto posted that nearly ten years ago, in November of 2003.
  #23  
Old 09-05-2013, 05:36 AM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
Otto posted that nearly ten years ago, in November of 2003.
And has subsequently been, er, refused service here.
  #24  
Old 09-05-2013, 07:04 AM
aNewLeaf aNewLeaf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaylasdad99 View Post
Not sure what to say to that,exactly, so I'll just ask a question.

I've never owned a business, but is there generally anything on a business license that tends to establish that the licensee is running either a place of public accommodation, or a "private establishment?"
If you get a business license, it's a business.
Private establishments are clubs with members- the Elks, the Boy Scouts, the AME Church.
...was my understanding when I applied for a business license some years ago.

It's true you can decline service to an individual, but as stated above in this zombie thread, it's risky.
Did you boot him out for being left handed? Or Korean? Was he drunk and disorderly, or just a black gay Jew?
  #25  
Old 09-05-2013, 07:06 AM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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FMoL?

We need a sticky acronym thread.
  #26  
Old 09-05-2013, 07:27 AM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
FMoL?

We need a sticky acronym thread.
Freeman on the land

(in before BrainGlutton posts it)
  #27  
Old 09-05-2013, 09:08 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaylasdad99 View Post
I've never owned a business, but is there generally anything on a business license that tends to establish that the licensee is running either a place of public accommodation, or a "private establishment?"
There is no bright line distinguishing private clubs from businesses for the purpose of civil rights legislation. Courts have generally adopted "factors" tests. The factors can include whether the establishment is operated on a for-profit basis, whether it is owned by its members, whether it employs commercial solicitation (advertising) to draw new members, and its criteria for membership (is it actually exclusive or does it just exclude black people?)
  #28  
Old 09-05-2013, 09:20 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usedtobe View Post
Oh look - a brand new member digging up a zombie to post FMoL nonsense.

How unusual!

Wonder if he'll also find a dead thread to revive by sharing his One True Religion?
No, not that one, not that one - you know, the TRUE one!
Moderator Note

usedtobe, personal attacks are not permitted in General Questions, no matter what your opinion of the poster might be. No warning issued, but don't do this again.

Colibri
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  #29  
Old 09-05-2013, 09:23 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Lee View Post
The government will continue its assault on the free agency of individuals until they finally discover that if they place a sign conspicously near the door that reads PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENT, WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE FOR ANY REASON INCLUDING THOSE WE DEEM PERSONAL AND PRIVATE. It is only necessary to overcome the presumption that the establishment is a public accommodation for one to be able to exercise their right to engage in selective service.
Moderator Note

Randy Lee, political commentary is not appropriate for General Questions. If you want to discuss this further, open a new thread in Great Debates. Since this thread is very old, I'm closing it.

Colibri
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