LGBT group files complaint against Adams Morgan bar for slur on receipt

An equal rights group says that it filed a complaint against an Adams Morgan bar Tuesday for allegedly discriminating against a transgender customer.

The customer, Amira Gray, showed Lambda Legal a photograph of the receipt that the bar, Bistro 18, gave her and her friends. Where the customer’s name would ordinarily go, the receipt said, “Gay Bitches.”

Lambda Legal, which offers free legal representation for civil rights cases involving LGBT people, said that it filed a complaint against Bistro 18 with the D.C. Office of Human Rights.

In a news release, Gray said that the incident took place on Aug. 11, 2013. She and her eight friends seated themselves and waited for a server to approach their table. Servers approached other guests, the news release claimed, but Gray and her friends eventually had to go to the bar to order. A server only came to their table once, to bring the hookah that they had ordered at the bar, the news release claimed.

Bistro 18 could not be reached for comment by phone and did not respond to an online message Wednesday afternoon.


This image distributed by Lambda Legal allegedly shows receipt that transgender woman and her friends received at Bistro 18. (Lambda Legal)

“When my friends and I saw the receipt, we were humiliated and embarrassed,” Gray said in the release. “We went in planning to enjoy Bistro 18 just like everyone else in the hookah bar that evening, but it turned into a disturbing experience.”

Elliot Imse, director of policy and communications at the Office of Human Rights, said that the office would not confirm or deny complaints it has received.

He said that a typical complaint of public accommodations discrimination against an establishment like a restaurant starts with an interview with the complainer, then a mandatory mediated meeting between the complainer and the accused establishment.

Both sides might agree to a resolution, like sensitivity training for the business’s staff, Imse said. If not, the Office of Human Rights investigates the complaint, a process that takes up to six months, and an administrative law judge at the Commission on Human Rights hears the case.

Imse said that the judge might award damages to be paid to the victim, but a discrimination complaint of this sort would not result in fines paid to the city.

Julie Zauzmer is a local news reporter.
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