A chain of martial arts-themed restaurants in Texas accused of racism against black and Asian customers has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, authorities announced Tuesday. The owners and operators of Kung Fu Saloon, a restaurant and arcade bar with locations in Dallas, Houston and Austin, were accused of training employees to limit the number of “ghetto-sounding” blacks and thick-accented Asian customers admitted to its locations, according to multiple news reports.
The Justice Department’s court-enforceable agreement with Kung Fu Saloon requires the restaurant chain’s management to prevent discrimination and further violations of federal civil rights law, said Vanita Gupta, assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s civil rights division. “Places of public accommodations, such as bars and restaurants like Kung Fu Saloon, should be open to all persons, regardless of race or national origin,” Gupta said in a statement.
Officials said they filed a complaint against the owners of all three Kung Fu Saloon locations after customers and employees attested to a widespread practice of race-based discrimination. Since at least May 2011, employees denied entry to African-American patrons wearing shorts and flip flop shoes, only to admit white patrons who wore similar attire, the Justice Department said.
One African-American customer who was denied entry in 2013 complained to management that his similarly dressed white friend was permitted entry to an Austin location. An employee told the black customer that it was up to Kung Fu “who can come in and who can’t,” according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for northern Texas. Officials said the behavior constituted a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin in places of public accommodation.
Managers at Kung Fu Saloon’s Dallas location allegedly instructed employees to screen customer reservation calls to identify black and Asian customers who sounded “too ghetto” or “too Asian,” respectively, according to the outlet, Burnt Orange Report.
â€” Kung Fu Saloon (@KungFuSaloon) June 8, 2015
“This settlement… should make clear that any illegal discrimination in places of public accommodations will not be tolerated,” John Parker, the top federal prosecutor for the Dallas area, said in a statement.