Ten Syracuse University students are suing the Denny's restaurant chain for racial discrimination, saying they were denied service, thrown out when they complained and roughed up in the parking lot.
Lawyer Elizabeth OuYang and several plaintiffs charged today that Denny's had failed to make sure all its employees underwent anti-discrimination training as required by the 1994 settlement of a class-action lawsuit. Denny's spokeswoman Karen Randall said the company was outraged by the incident and was firing some employees and disciplining others. Denny's President John Romandetti expressed "deep regret" in a statement.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Syracuse, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, alleging that the students -- six Asian Americans, three blacks and one white -- were denied service at the Syracuse restaurant April 11 on account of "race, ethnicity or national origin."
It says that they waited 30 minutes for tables while groups of white patrons were routinely seated and that after they complained, they were forcibly ejected by two sheriff's deputies moonlighting as security guards.
In the parking lot, the lawsuit says, the Asian and black students had a shoving confrontation with the uniformed, armed guards, and then were jeered, racially insulted and physically attacked by 10 or more white youths who came out of the restaurant.