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Elmer's Responds to Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Elmer's Restaurant
Elmer's Restaurant

Last week, Brian Eason, an African American sheriff's deputy and real estate agent, filed a $100K lawsuit against Karsan, Inc., a franchisee of the local Elmer's Restaurants, claiming he experienced racial discrimination at an Elmer's in Vancouver, WA. Karsan has now released a statement denying Eason's claims. In part, the statement reads, "No guest at the restaurant was treated any differently on the basis of race, and Karsan's policies explicitly forbid any such discrimination."

Eason tells a different story. He says he was asked to prepay for his meal and drinks during a 2014 visit to Elmer's Restaurant. He says that when he questioned his waitress about prepayment, she said an increase in dine-and-dash incidents had caused her boss to institute the policy. Eason left, but later that day, he returned to Elmer's and asked two diners if they had been asked to prepay. They said they hadn't. As a result, Eason believes that he was asked to prepay because of his ethnicity and is seeking compensation for damages.

Now, Karsan tells its side of the story. In its statement, it confirms that the prepayment policy had been in effect due to dine-and-dash incidents in the restaurant's lounge area, "which is a separate area from the restaurant and was not staffed at the time of Mr. Eason's visit." It continues, "Under this policy, Mr. Eason was asked to pay for his drink order when it was brought to him." Karsan says the only diners omitted from this policy were regulars whom the waitstaff knew personally.

Karsan's goes on to say that it had "made multiple attempts to reach out to Mr. Eason in hopes of resolving this matter amicably, but Mr. Eason never returned the calls."

Eason originally lodged his complaint with the Washington Human Rights Commission, and in January, 2015, the commission issued a "no reasonable cause" letter in response. It then issued a case memorandum officially recommending Eason's case be closed on October 8, 2015. Eason filed a lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court against the Karsan for $100,000 that same month.

Karsan and Elmer's say they plan to contest and defend against Eason's lawsuit. Simultaneously, the two groups say they offer an apology to Eason.