Did The Game's Tattoos Get Him Kicked Out of Restaurant?

By Betty Wang, JD on August 12, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The rapper known as The Game was apparently kicked out of a restaurant, and he feels it's because of his tattoos. E! Online reports the rapper was denied service at a restaurant called Houston's in Pasadena, California, and was asked to leave by the manager. The Game claims it was because his body art was apparently threatening to other patrons in the restaurant.

The rapper sent out several incredulous tweets following the incident. Many of his fans followed suit and tweeted out messages urging others to boycott the restaurant.

But is it actually legal for a business to refuse service because of a customer's tattoos?

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Ink?

That fairly common "no shirts, no shoes" ban at many restaurants may seem retro (and, let's be honest, a little hillbilly), but is likely still imposed because of issues regarding liability or health and safety concerns.

But since we're not dealing with shirts or footwear here, what about tattoos? According to a representative from Houston's, the restaurant has a strict dress code that requires sleeves for all customers.

So technically, while it seemed they were asking The Game to leave based on his tattoos, it was (supposedly) actually because the rapper was wearing a tank top with no sleeves. This is still in accordance with public accommodation laws, and therefore legal, the eatery insists.

Public Accommodation Laws

What are public accommodation laws?

Federal public accommodation laws apply to private businesses that are open to the public, including restaurants. The laws prohibit facilities from discriminating patrons based on a number of protected categories such as disability, race, gender, and religion. Some state public accommodation laws also prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Houston's purported sleeveless ban, on its face, does not seem to discriminate based on a protected category. But if the restaurant were to selectively enforce the ban (on members of one race, for example) then that discrimination would be illegal.

So while The Game tweeted that he felt "racism" and "tattoos" were the cause of his being denied service, Houston's likely won't get served with a lawsuit for refusing to serve him for wearing a tank top.

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