BLACK family from California files $10 million discrimination suit against Denny's

Friday, August 24th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A black family is suing the Denny's restaurant chain for $10 million, claiming their party of 25 people was refused service.

The racial discrimination suit was filed this week in Superior Court on behalf of Marcia M. Hooks and her family.

``What we have is a clear and blatant act of racial discrimination,'' said Melanie E. Lomax, the family's lawyer. ``Denny's continues to preach that they have reformed, but these things continue to happen.

Hooks said she and 24 family members went out to lunch on Feb. 18, the day after her husband's funeral. After waiting nearly two hours, they were ultimately refused service, the suit claims.

``It was humiliating,'' Kevin Hooks said. ``One white man came over after his meal and said, ``Don't let them do this to you. Fight for your rights.''

Spartanburg, S.C.-based Denny's disagreed with the family's version of events.

``I wish we could have been faster and more efficient,'' said Rachelle Hood-Phillips, chief diversity officer for Advantica Restaurant Group Inc., Denny's parent company. ``But let's not confuse the delay of service with discrimination.''

In 1994, Denny's settled a $46 million lawsuit that claimed black customers were denied service or forced to pay in advance.