The American Civil Liberties Union settled its lawsuit Thursday against a cafe in Laguna Beach stemming from a claim by several Muslim women that they were discriminated against.
The settlement agreement with Urth Caffe includes the business dismissing its own cross-complaints.
A group of seven women, six of whom were wearing a head scarf for Muslim women, called hijabs, alleged they were seated in a patio for the eatery April 22, 2016, when they were asked to leave because it was a rush hour for the business and the table was needed. The women, however, pointed to several unoccupied tables.
They claimed it was discrimination because other patrons, who were there before them, were not asked to leave.
When the Muslim women pressed the point they say management called police.
As part of the settlement, Urth Caffe on Saturday will serve free drinks and desserts for customers as part of a celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan.
Urth Caffe representatives argued they have a 45-minute seating policy and the women overstayed their welcome.
Attorneys for Urth Caffe said during the litigation the business compiled evidence that the Laguna Beach cafe is popular with Muslim patrons. They said in a statement that they “proved there was no discrimination against the seven women, or anyone else for that matter.”
“This lawsuit was a fraud and a hoax from the get-go,” said Urth attorney David Yerushalmi of the American Freedom Law Center. “After two years of litigation and after plaintiffs’ leftist/progressive lawyers, including the ACLU, spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to force a huge financial payoff for themselves and their clients at Urth Caffe’s expense, they have received no money whatsoever and have effectively dropped their claims only to run for the hills.”
The attorney pointed out that Urth Caffe co-owner Jilla Berkman is Muslim.
Urth Caffe has agreed to “clarify” its seating policy so that it is “applied consistently,” the ACLU reported. The business will also hold diversity training sessions for its employees.
“My friends and I took this stand to see change and ensure that any type of discriminatory conduct is never accepted or tolerated,” said Sara Farsakh, one of the women who sued the cafe. “I’m glad this has led to a positive result and I’m hopeful what happened to us will not be repeated again.”
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