Three Michigan women are threatening to take a popular restaurant chain to court following an alleged incident of racial discrimination.
Lansing natives Jennifer McEwen, Sasha Collins, and Lamaya McGuire claim they were pelted with racist insults and even assaulted during their visit to a Denny’s diner on West Saginaw Highway in Lansing late last year, local station WLNS reported.
Now, the ladies are seeking legal representation and have plans to sue the restaurant.
“We were just so hurt,” McEwen told the station of the October incident, saying not a single Denny’s worker stepped in to help them during the harrowing ordeal.
The women said the incident occurred shortly after they were seated and had placed their orders. That’s when four individuals wearing “Blue Angel” biker jackets walked in the restaurant and began taunting them with racist vitriol.
“As soon as they seen us they just — well one just started going in, [saying,] ‘we don’t like these type of people where we are from …,’ ” Collins recalled, saying she and her friends tried ignoring it.
“Then he sits down ‘like n-word, n-word, n-word to his friends, ‘ ” she added. After his insults failed to garner a reaction, Collins said the man waved over a waitress and told her “to serve these n-words some t-bone steaks.”
Outraged, the women took their complaints to management after they say the waitress turned a blind eye to the racist harassment. Collins explained to a manager what had happened, and requested that the offending party be booted from the eatery. The manager refused, however, citing freedom of speech.
According to the women, the manager then told them if they didn’t like what they were hearing, they could leave.
McEwen shot back: “So if we were to say something back to them would that be freedom of speech?” to which the manager responded, “no, that would be you guys starting s–t.”
Fed up, the trio asked to take their orders to go. Again, the manager refused and threatened to call police if they didn’t leave.
“I said, ‘OK call the police and I’ll call the police, too,’” McEwen told WLNS, recounting what happened. “We didn’t do anything. We don’t have to leave.”
While on the phone with 911, McEwen said one of the women from the biker group walked over and punched her. The assault was captured on surveillance video.
WILX reported that Eaton County prosecutors said that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of the woman suspected of throwing the punch caught on camera. Alice Barber, who was charged with assault and battery, did not show up for her arraignment, and no additional charges have been filed in connection to the fracas.
Though it’s been months since the incident, Collins, McEwen and McGuire said it’s all still very upsetting.
In a statement, a Denny’s spokesman told Atlanta Black Star the company was first alerted to the incident last year and are still working to get to the bottom of the issue.
“Denny’s is committed to providing a welcoming environment for all our guests and we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” spokesman Paul Spencer said. “We’re sincerely saddened to hear about the treatment these women received from another party in the restaurant.”
The diner chain said its legal department was contacted by counsel for the three women in November 2018, after which it provided the guests with the franchisee’s information so that he could reach out to them, and assist local authorities in nabbing the perpetrators.
“We did not hear from the guests or their counsel again,” Spencer said.
He added: “We take our staff training very seriously. We have a disruptive guest policy that the manager of the Lansing restaurant didn’t follow when he saw that these guests were being disturbed by other guests, and that is completely unacceptable.”
The spokesman confirmed the manager in question is no longer employed by Denny’s and that the franchise is still waiting to hear from the women’s legal counsel in order to resolve the issue.
Watch more in the clip below.