A Hooters in Queens is facing a racial discrimination lawsuit after a Korean-American customer received a receipt containing a racial slur.
The New York Times reported yesterday:
In early July, Kisuk Cha and his girlfriend, both Korean immigrants, walked into a Hooters in Fresh Meadows and ordered buffalo shrimp and chicken wings to go. After they placed their order, they noticed their server and another employee standing at the computer giggling and “gawking at them,” according to the lawsuit.
When the server handed them their receipt, Mr. Cha and his girlfriend saw that in the space reserved for the customer’s name, the cashier had typed "chinx."
The Hooters employee responsible for the anti-Asian slur has reportedly resigned, and the restaurant reviewed months of receipts to check for other incidents, though none were found.
"That's not what we're all about, especially here in New York City, Queens County, the most diverse place int he world," Cha's attorney Daniel Baek told a local CBS affiliate.
CBS also reports that the restaurant chain is fighting back. Hooters attorney Edward McCabe acknowledged the incident as an isolated matter and said that it's not the business' responsibility when individual employees act out—a defense that Baek and his client refute:
"The law is very clear, you can hate Asians all you want, but the moment one walks into your place of business, he or she is entitled to equal treatment and protection. That’s been violated here," Baek told 1010 WINS’ Aaron Gerberg. "My client threw away his food after he saw the receipt — very disgusted. And ever since then, he did not go back to any national chain store whatsoever. He doesn’t want to go back to Hooters again."
There are two ways to look at this: as an overreaction on Cha's part, or as Cha standing up for himself and on the behalf of so many Asian-Americans who have endured discrimination.
I choose the latter. I choose the latter because anti-Asian rhetoric is too commonly accepted in this country. This incident is just one of many in recent memory. Remember Michigan Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra's 'Debbie Spend-it-Now' ad? Remember when last December, two Asian students in Irvine, California went to a Chick-fil-A where they received receipts that read "Ching" and "Chong" in place of their names. Remember last January when a 24-year-old Asian woman in New York City discovered her Papa John's receipt identified her as "lady chinky eyes"?
These micro-aggressions matter. They can lead to violence—like 30 years ago in the killing of Vincent Chin, or last year when Pvt. Danny Chen took his life. Acts of racism are more than just "frivolous cases," as McCabe remarked in defense of Hooters. Verbal assaults are all-too often the gateway to serious physical manifestations of hate.