Black man told to prepay at Vancouver Elmer’s, lawsuit says

Mike Benner
Photo: Mike Benner

Portland, Ore. —  (KGW) An Oregon man is suing the Elmer’s restaurant chain for $100,000 after he says he was told to prepay for his meal at a Vancouver establishment because he was African-American.

On Dec. 16, 2014, Brian Eason, a Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy and realtor, went to the Elmer’s restaurant for breakfast and to write Christmas cards for his clients, according to his lawsuit filed Tuesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

A waitress took Eason’s order but demanded that he prepay for his meal, according to Eason’s lawsuit.

Eason asked the waitress why he had to prepay and the waitress explained she was acting on instructions from the owner, the lawsuit said. The restaurant, located at 7105 NE 40th St., is owned by Karsan, Inc.

The waitress then apologized and acknowledged the policy was racist, but still continued to ask that Eason prepay for his meal. Caucasian customers in the restaurant were not required to prepay, according to the lawsuit.

“You’d like to think that type of racism is fully buried in the past and it’s not,” said Greg Kafoury, Eason’s lawyer.

Eason prepaid for his meal. He “continues to suffer, and will in the future suffer from feelings of racial stigmatization” as a result of the incident, the lawsuit said.

Elmer’s Restaurants, Inc. is based in Oregon. Karsan, Inc. is based in Washington.

“We are disappointed to hear about the complaint which occurred at an Elmer’s location owned and operated by one of our franchisees,” said Jill Ramos, Director of Restaurant Support for Elmer’s. “There is no Elmer’s policy requiring any guest to prepay for their meal. We have taken steps to ensure that the franchisee has ended this practice.”

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