Lawsuits claim racial discrimination at Waffle House restaurant chain

Wednesday, September 17th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ More than 50 black customers are suing the Waffle House restaurant chain, claiming they were discriminated against because of their race, lawyers said Wednesday.

The plaintiffs say they were denied service, forced to wait for long periods and subjected to racial slurs by Waffle House employees.

``What happened to these 56 individuals ... was conduct that was blatant, that was arrogant and that was hostile,'' said attorney Henderson Hill, who is working on the cases with the nonprofit Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

The lawsuits say discrimination occurred at restaurants owned by Waffle House Inc. and franchisees in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. The suits are being filed in federal courts in each state.

The actions seek unspecified financial rewards and court orders to stop racial discrimination.

Officials of Waffle House, based in Norcross, Ga., denied the charges.

Waffle House spokesman Pat Warner said one-third of the company's employees are minorities. There are more than 1,400 company and franchise Waffle House restaurants in 25 states.

Last year, Waffle House franchisee Southeast Waffles settled with four black plaintiffs who claimed they were turned away from the restaurants. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.