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Black Restaurant Patrons File Class Action against Pergola for Racial Profiling and Discrimination

default author image09.23.2022

NEW YORK, NY – Just four months after two Black men sued a popular Manhattan restaurant for refusing to serve them due to their race, a new Class Action claims there may be hundreds of other Black patrons who suffered racial hostility from Pergola restaurant’s bouncers and management.

Today, Crumiller has filed an amended complaint asserting class claims of race discrimination against Pergola on behalf of Plaintiffs Joshua Smith, Cameron Niles, and a group of similarly situated Black individuals. The amended Class Action complaint alleges that for years, Pergola has selectively enforced its dress code and reservation policies to unlawfully deny Black people admission to the restaurant.

Dozens of Black diners have taken to Yelp, Facebook, and Google over the years to air their frustrations at what they said were obvious instances of race-based mistreatment, according to the lawsuit. The filing includes screenshots of many online reviews from Black patrons who said they were turned away at the door while casually dressed white customers entered and exited the premises without issue, often without reservations. The complaint also includes screenshots of photos Pergola posted to its social media accounts showing white patrons dressed in casual attire including torn jeans, T-shirts and athletic apparel.

The original filing by Plaintiffs Smith and Niles alleged that after they arrived at Pergola dressed nicely in button-down shirts and pants, the bouncer told them they were dressed too casually and unilaterally canceled their reservation, explaining that the manager “doesn’t let your kind of Black people in here.”

The case is Smith et al v. Pergola Restaurant, No. 1:22-CV-4052 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Statement from Susan Crumiller, attorney for the Plaintiffs and Proposed Class:

“Pergola’s history of casual racism has caused untold humiliation and psychological harm to dozens, if not hundreds of Black patrons over the years. Our hope is that by pursuing these claims on a class-wide basis, we are sending a message to Pergola that its racist behavior has got to stop. Period.”

Crumiller is a feminist litigation firm that fights discrimination and sexual abuse in the workplace, healthcare and beyond.

Media Contact: Jacob Eidinger
(212) 390-8480