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Posted: Wednesday, April 28th 2004 at 5:10am

Racial discrimination lawsuit filed against Waffle House

By The Associated Press

Eight people have filed a federal lawsuit against Waffle House Inc., claiming they experienced racial discrimination at Atlanta-area Waffle House restaurants.

The lawsuit against the Norcross-based restaurant chain was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

The plaintiffs in the case are black.

One plaintiff, Eli Jackson of Atlanta, claimed that, unlike white customers, he had to pay in advance for his meal. Another, Hakieem Mack, also of Atlanta, said he placed a carryout order at one restaurant and was told he would have to pick it up at another location.

A Waffle House spokesman said Tuesday he had not seen a copy of the lawsuit. But spokesman Pat Warner said the chain treats complaints seriously and has fired employees found guilty of discrimination in the past.

"Our doors are open to everyone," Warner said. "The bottom line is 160 million customers come through our doors every year, and we try to ensure that everyone has a good time."

Two other plaintiffs, John Scott and his fiancee, Krystyll Gardner, claim they were confronted by a knife-wielding cook who shouted racial slurs at them at a Waffle House in Alpharetta. They say they were later pulled over by Alpharetta police who made them sign a form agreeing never to return to that Waffle House.

Warner said the company's records show that only two of the plaintiffs filed complaints. Their allegations were investigated and found to be without merit, he said.

Tuesday's suit is another in a wave of discrimination lawsuits filed in recent years against the privately held company. In September, lawsuits were filed against 13 Waffle Houses in five states, including four in Georgia.

The other plaintiffs in this latest suit are Tashina Green of Atlanta, Clarence Watson of Griffin, Terrance Taylor of Stockbridge and Brenda French of Atlanta.


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