Black Man Settles with Steakhouse Over N-Word Slur on Receipt

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on March 06, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

What would you do if you found out your employee put a racist slur on a receipt? That is exactly what happened in an Orange County steak restaurant.

African American businessman Mark McHenry frequented Landmark Steakhouse. He thought he was developing a friendly, joking rapport with the wait staff.

But it seems the restaurant's employees may have crossed a line. McHenry discovered that several of his receipts called him by different variations of the N-word. That is when he sued.

The case has since settled. It's unclear how much the business settled for. But a federal employment discrimination lawsuit is certainly something that most businesses would want to avoid.

In fact it wasn't that long ago that a similar incident unfolded in a New York Papa John's pizza chain. Employees reportedly typed out patron Minhee Cho's name as "lady chinky eyes." Cho took a photo of the receipt and posted it onto her Twitter account. It went viral.

Clearly, both of these scenarios are ones that general counsels dread. However, it may be difficult to completely eliminate the risk of a lawsuit. Businesses hire thousands of new employees. It would be difficult -- and nearly impossible -- to manage all of their actions.

This seems to beg the question of what in house counsel should do to combat the problem. Providing training and education to employees may be an option. It may also be prudent to ensure all employees are well-aware that discriminatory actions will not be tolerated.

At least one employee at the Landmark Steakhouse was fired over the racist slur on the receipt. Papa John's also fired an employee after the receipt went viral. But these after-the-fact actions may not be as ideal as preventing the problem outright.

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