Asking Black Customers to Pre-Pay Just Cost Denny’s a Grand Slam of a Lawsuit

Justin Caffier
(Photo: OBSEV / Shutterstock)

Denny’s doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to race relations. In the 90s, the company paid over $54 million in settlements to black customers who had been refused service or made to pay more than white diners.

Continuing in that tradition is the case of Henry Williams and Renee Hebert, who just settled with the chain after the couple was asked to pre-pay for a meal back in 2014.

The two plaintiffs, who are both black, went to a Los Angeles Denny’s franchise and, after placing an order that would total up to over $83, a manager came over to ask them to pre-pay for their meal.

The couple alleged that this move by management was based on the color of their skin, as no other guest in the restaurant was asked to pre-pay for their food.

The Denny’s legal defense contended that this unorthodox request was merely based on the size of the order and due to a spate of dine-and-dashes they’d been experiencing at that location.

A fellow (white) customer who witnessed the incident testified against Denny’s in the case, telling the jury “they were black, I'm white, I've never been asked to prepay.” Furthermore, this same witness, a regular at the location, testified to seeing other black customers getting asked to pre-pay during prior visits.

The settlement figure is undisclosed, but it’s likely that Denny’s paid a pretty penny to make this problem go away.


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