Pizza Hut owner fined $1,000, but cleared of discrimination charge

Jan. 28, 2003

NORFOLK, Va. -- A black family denied service at a Chesapeake Pizza Hut was awarded $1,000 after a jury determined the store's staff violated a state consumer law.

According to the Virginian-Pilot, the family originally sought $2 million in damages based on charges of racial discrimination. The jury ruled, however, that the restaurant's only offense was allowing customers inside when it was unable to serve them food.

Employees at the now-closed Pizza Hut (a bridge expansion project shuttered the store) testified this week that on the night of June 25, 2000, the restaurant was so busy that they ran out of cheese and weren't able to serve more customers until an employee returned with more.

Shonda Talley-Green's family claimed that the dining room that night was full of white customers eating pizza and salad, and that its 13-member party was denied service because they are black. They also said they were treated rudely by the staff.

Attorney Alan Brody Rashkind, who represented Colonial Foods Corp., which franchised the Pizza Hut, said his client was vindicated despite the award.

"There was no evidence of any racial epithets or racial slurs," said Rashkind. "The case was based on the theory that there was subtle, unspoken discrimination."

Colonial Foods franchises 110 Pizza Huts and employs 3,000.

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