Buckshot LeFonque "Breakfast @Denny's" (Uptown Version)
Racial discrimination @Denny's
During the early 1990s, Denny's was involved in a series of discrimination lawsuits involving several cases of servers denying or providing inferior service to minorities, especially African American customers.
- These are some of the most notable incidents involving racial discrimination at Denny's: In San Jose, California, several black teenagers were refused service unless they agreed to pay in advance (Smith, 1996). This was the first recorded incident of such events.
- Six Asian-American Syracuse University students visited a local Denny’s restaurant late at night. They waited over 30 minutes as white patrons were regularly served, seated, and offered more helpings. They began to complain to management and to their server regarding the situation. They were then forced to leave the establishment by two security guards (called by Denny’s management). Then, according to the students, a group of white men came out of Denny's and attacked the group, shouting racial epithets. Several of the students were beaten into unconsciousness.
- Six African-American Secret Service agents visited a Denny’s restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland. They were forced to wait an hour for service while their white companions were seated immediately upon entering (Guillermo, 1997).
- An African-American Denny’s customer was told that he and his friends had to pay up front at the counter upon ordering their meals. He questioned the waitress: "We asked the waitress about it and she said some black guys had been in earlier who made a scene and walked out without paying their bill. So the manager now wanted all blacks to pay up front." (Ferraro, 1995).
In 1994, Denny's settled a class action lawsuit filed by thousands of black customers who had been refused service, forced to wait longer, or pay more than white customers. The $54.4 million settlement was the largest and broadest under Federal public-accommodations laws established 30 years ago to end segregation in restaurants and public spaces.
After the $54.4 million settlement, Denny's created a racial sensitivity training program for all its employees. Denny's has also made efforts at improving its public relations image by featuring African Americans in many of its commercials, including one featuring Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford (both actors from the popular The Jeffersons television show). In 2001, Denny's was chosen by Fortune magazine as the "Best Company for Minorities."