Social Question

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Does this pizza shop owner actually have the right to kick out his customers simply because they're atheists?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (26834points) November 10th, 2011


Granted, the kids in the video didn’t seem well prepared to confront the guy.. but he keeps asserting that he is allowed to refuse service to anyone at any time for any reason.
Is that true?
It doesn’t seem even remotely possible that it could be true that he could openly discriminate against customers based on their beliefs, but is it?

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43 Answers

rojo's avatar

Just seems odd to me that someone who professes to model their life after Christ would discriminate in such a manner.

Kayak8's avatar

Based on the SPECIFIC case in the video, I think the guy takes their money and he needs to give them a to-go box. If he wants to kick them out, either they don’t pay or, if they pay, they get their freakin’ food. If it is a privately owned restaurant, the owner can kick anyone out if the area doesn’t have public accommodation laws—the only business he hurts is his own.

WestRiverrat's avatar

In the US that is true. A private business can decide who they do and do not want to serve. Of course the public has the right to boycott and picket the shop, as long as they do not impede someone’s access.

I think it would be a poor business practice, but it is legal.

rebbel's avatar

Shop owners, I believe, can refuse entrance to their shop to anyone they want.
But if they use stupid reasons to do so, I think they’ll end up getting less customers then they expected in the end.
I wouldn’t visit a shop any longer if they’d refused individuals or groups for reasons like the pizza guy did.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Sad. :\ I hope these guys make a lot of noise about it.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I dont think legally he is allowed to in some parts of the world, but I think he should be able to kick out whoever he likes, and that’s coming from an atheist.

He had the idea, he got the loan, he purchased the place, he got in all the ingredients and put together a menu, he has more invested in it and therefore his rights should come first. Just let his choices impact his business however they happen to do so.

marinelife's avatar

It’s his business. It depends on if the person is of a protected class. If the atheists were viewed as having atheism as their religion, then he might not be able to.

rojo's avatar

@ marinelife I agree, it is his business but how does he justify this attitude with his professed Christianity? Perhaps his definition is different from mine.

marinelife's avatar

@rojo I didn’t say it was admirable, just that business owners can pretty much do what they want unless they violate laws.

bkcunningham's avatar

I just saw a badly drawn cartoon and two people talking in what sounded like a bad script with bad actors.

rojo's avatar

@ marinelife I agreed with you, I just wondered about the justification part.

ratboy's avatar

Atheists have the same right to public accommodations as anyone else:

Title II of the CRA [Civil Rights Act of 1964] prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin in public accommodations. Public accommodations are defined as establishments that serve the public and have a connection to interstate commerce. These include hotels and motels, restaurants and bars, and entertainment venues such as movie theaters or sports arenas. The DOJ[Department of Justice] enforces Title II.

EmptyNest's avatar

Oh, how embarrassing. :-( I believe these customers have a legal case. A true Christian would never have been so unkind. I would like to apologize to these customers.

Blackberry's avatar

I was going to ask about this the other day, but it was so egregious that I thought it was fake. I’m not surprised. Just because I don’t deal with the persecution doesn’t mean it isn’t happening of course. I would have been very angry and voiced my concern to this guy if this did happen. I hope he loses business, even if he has the right. Sorry, just my opinion.

DominicX's avatar

I think people have this down, that in this country, he is allowed to do that. However, they are also allowed to make this go public and possibly cause the downfall of his business, so there’s room for everyone :)

Buttonstc's avatar

I thought it was going to be an actual video of the incident with real people shot in real time as it’s happening.

If this happened in real life, it doesn’t make sense to me that they would not post the name and location of the shop so that others would not patronize it. I find that a bit puzzling. Else why make this video at all?

But, for the record, if such an incident did occur in real life, the owner is being an idiot since it’s costing him money.

They weren’t doing anything disruptive to provoke his stance, so it obviously doesn’t make sense business-wise for him to refuse to serve paying customers.

Their claims of ” being hungry” because they didn’t get to finish their pizza also seem a bit specious. It would certainly have taken the cops a whole lot longer to arrive than it would take to finish a slice of pizza so why not just continue to eat since he had no legitimate grounds for evicting them.

I’m just mindful of the fact that this is the Internet and anyone can post pretty much anything on YouTube regardless of whether it actually happened or not.

Personally, I don’t regard YouTube as a bastion of integrity.

The whole thing seems kinda fishy to me. Without names, dates and location, it just seems pretty pointless. Unless someone just wants a jumping off point for stirring up controversy.

BTW. When something of a sort of similar nature occurred (but not regarding atheists) there was no shortage of accurate info.

I’m referring to Joey Vento’s sign staying that orders must be placed in English only at his Cheesesteak place in Philly.

Dutchess_III's avatar

read @Buttonstc and deleted my response!

6rant6's avatar

Would those of you who uphold his right to discriminate have gone along if he was excluding Muslims, or Jews? How about Baptists or Catholics?

Blackberry's avatar

@Buttonstc There was a post before this (that’s what the cartoon was, people do this regularly to tell stories on Reddit) on Reddit. They left peacefully, and this was them coming back to confront the guy and record it.

Buttonstc's avatar

So who was the guy and what’s the name of the pizza place and where is it located?

There’s nothing preventing them from including this info in their video, is there?

The info about the cheesesteak guy created a ton of controversy about discrimination but there was no conceivable way he could have prevented his name and location being named since it was based on VERIFIABLE FACT.

That seems to be noticeably absent here.

I’m not defending the business owner’s actions. I’d just like to know who he is so I don’t give him any of my hard earned money for being a jackass.

Why not post the name of the business? Doesn’t make much sense to me.

Blackberry's avatar

@Buttonstc I agree, it seems they’ve chosen not to released the information at all, which does make it skeptical. Everyone is asking them to as well.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@6rant6 I don’t think anyone is upholding his right to discriminate. A small business owner does have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason. After a confrontation with a particularly unsavory customer at our shop, we posted that same sign.

However, to use that caveat in that kind of manner is self-destructive.

bkcunningham's avatar

I agree 100 percent with @Buttonstc. What is the knock at the door at the beginning of the video? Are they supposedly holding regular meetings and discussions at this alleged pizza house?

DominicX's avatar

@Dutchess_III Right, but isn’t refusing service to someone based on their beliefs, discrimination? It might be legal, but it’s still technically discrimination.

rojo's avatar

@6rant6 all except the jews, that might be construed as anti-semetic.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Absolutely it’s discrimination @DominicX, and as such a fair lawsuit could be brought against the business and then they’d be OUT of business.

But….by the same token, do we have the right to “discriminate” against abusive customers, the type my sign was intended for? If they happened to be rich and had the money to persue it, would they have a lawsuit, you suppose?

Judi's avatar

Ouch. Jesus is really sad right now.

6rant6's avatar

“Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights ACT”:,
[Outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce]

So you’re free to post your sign, but it don’t mean squat.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@bkcunningham I perceived the knock as if they came to speak to him specifically, and possibly knocked on his office door… rather than sitting down at a table in the dining room, or whatever.

I have no idea if it’s real. Whether or not it is, it made me curious about the legality of it.

Buttonstc's avatar

As far as I’m concerned (until further FACTS emerge) this is just a slightly more sophisticated version of trolling for the sake of controversy alone.

And in time it may achieve the dubious status of “urban legend” all without a single shred of evidence that it occured.

Any other incidents of crappy service or discrimination that I’ve ever encountered are always interested in naming specifics to insure that others don’t patronize the establishment.

Or else, why bother with all this effort ? I’m sure the guys who posted this on YouTube are delighted with all the buzz and increased view count that’s getting racked up.

I sure won’t be discussing this elsewhere and posting links, etc. I’d much rather watch the “Mean Kitty” channel on YouTube. At least I know that it involves real people and real animals :)

CWOTUS's avatar

It’s true that he can “refuse service” for various reasons. However, he cannot refuse service based on several ‘protected’ criteria, and this (religion) is one. (Others are race, gender, and sexual orientation.)

He also can’t threaten, as he clearly did (aside from the ‘threat’ to call his attorney or the police). When he threatened to “climb over there and make you leave”, that was a clearly implied threat. The kids, regardless of their ability to articulate and present their point, were totally within their rights (and apparently respectful, even complimentary toward the guy’s product).

Except for the fact that their recording is probably also illegal, they have a good case to make, if they prepare it and document it better.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I suppose if he expelled them because the shirt he chose to wear, be it something about atheist, neo-Nazism, klan activities, etc. He can bounce them. If he were specifically targeting them for their beliefs, that would be another story. The owner could have handled it better, and at least let them take the rest of the pizza they paid for.

Blackberry's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Their waitress asked what the ‘A’ on his shirt meant, and they told her, she then came back with the manager. But like @Buttonstc said, I’m somewhat skeptical until they release the name of the business.

ratboy's avatar

The details and authenticity of the specific case at hand are irrelevant to the principles involved.

Blackberry's avatar

@ratboy That is also true lol. I would just want to know so hundreds of adamant people can give the place reviews on Yelp. Tee-hee.

woodcutter's avatar

There are places where people should use some thought when deciding what to wear especially if it might be controversial to many. People can wear whatever they want but they shouldn’t be surprised if it stirs up someone. The guy has a right to protect his other customers from things he deems offensive to them. It’s a place of business with patrons and they have to considered.The youngsters were being a pain and they wanted to be acknowledged and really a businessman has no time for that. If you want to make a statement go out and start a rally but don’t make a stand right in someones shop. People also have a right to conduct their business as they seem fit. It’s their livelihood and people will fight fiercely to protect it. Those brats probably have no idea what work ethic is, I’d bet money on it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@6rant6 Ah. Your cite didn’t say anything about people with bad attitudes, so we can discriminate against them! What a relief!

mattbrowne's avatar

Not in Germany. The pizza owner would break the law.

6rant6's avatar

@woodcutter No, he doesn’t have a legal right to protect his clients form things “he deems offensive,” if it is an expression religious belief. That would apply to Yarmulkes, Burqas, crucifixes, “Jesus loves me” tattoos, and black fingernail polish.

DominicX's avatar

Interestingly enough, the video has now been removed, according to YouTube, because it “promoted hate speech”.

@woodcutter How is wearing a T-shirt “making a statement”? It’s not like the T-shirt said “down with Christianity”. Would it have been okay if they had worn a T-shirt promoting Christianity and an atheist store-owner told them to get out because of their beliefs? And yes, I am seeing this as a double standard issue because A) the situation I describe would probably never happen and B) some people would see it as profoundly wrong, whereas I’m sure there are many who are perfectly okay with the situation as described in the now lost video.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Where is this pizza place and why is the video labeled as “hate speech”?

woodcutter's avatar

No one really knows the whole story of what happened there. Knowing how young people act, they probably got abusive themselves and the shop keeper wasn’t having it. Be real. The younguns were being smart asses and caused a scene. Any scene is bad for businesses. The people who made this clearly had an agenda in mind and may have omitted things so as to make the owner look bad. It’s their mouths that get people in situations like this. A shop owner doesn’t need an excuse that is palatable to anyone. It’s his place and doesn’t have to serve anyone he doesn’t want to. There may have been problems with these people in the past.

Ron_C's avatar

@ratboy Good! That saved me from looking up the law. I also think the guy’s an idiot for caring about the religion of a person buying pizza.

I was thrown out of a bar on a High Security Navy base because I said that “if I were captured in Vietnam, they’d have to beat me to make me stop talking!” Evidently you are not allowed to be a coward at an NCO club. Who knew?

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