Staff at a Red Lobster in Rochester are being accused of discriminating against a Muslim family waiting at the restaurant to break their Ramadan fast.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) has called on the seafood chain to take action – including a written apology – over a recent incident at the restaurant in the Apache Mall.
A Muslim family, observing Ramadan, had requested water to break their fast, before intending to order food.
However, CAIR-MN says that no water came for 30 minutes, despite the restaurant not being busy and despite being told several times that the water was on its way.
When the family complained to the restaurant manager, they suggested they were the subject of possible bias, they were allegedly told: "You people love to play the race card whenever you can."
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When told they would complain to corporate HQ, the manager is claimed to have said: "Go ahead and call them. It’s going to be your word against mine. They won’t believe you."
CAIR-MN also says that a Red Lobster server, upon hearing the disagreement surrounded the Ramadan fast, allegedly said: "I know all about Ramadan. A Muslim hit my car the other day because she was too hungry to drive in Ramadan. I almost got injured because of Ramadan."
In a statement sent to Bring Me The News, Red Lobster said it couldn't comment on the specifics as it's an "open legal matter."
It did however say: "We welcome everyone in our restaurants for a great seafood dining experience. All our guests should be treated equally and given the respect they deserve."
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In its letter to Red Lobster, CAIR-MN accuses it of violating Title II of the Civil Rights Act 1964 and the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
It's seeking an apology and compensation donated to charity on behalf of the family, as well as the restaurant updating its anti-harassment and discrimination policies.
They also want employees to go through sensitivity training.
“It is unconscionable that a family seeking to observe their religious principles would be so harshly treated by those paid to serve the public and who are legally bound to offer that service without discrimination,” said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Attorney Ellen Longfellow.