Couple Files Federal Lawsuit After Being Kicked Out Of Restaurant For ‘Smelling like Weed’
Last August, a Black couple was kicked out of a Memphis eatery for allegedly smelling like marijuana. On May 11, a federal lawsuit was filed against the business, citing racial discrimination, according to NBC News.
Dechandria Bass and her boyfriend, Dwan Brown, met with Brown’s family at Houston’s Restaurant, located on Poplar Avenue in Memphis.
Soon after they arrived, the group was confronted by the white restaurant manager, Kayla Hollins. According to the lawsuit, Hollins informed the couple that they needed to leave because “they smelled like weed.”
The pair initially thought Hollins was speaking to somebody else since they knew they did not smell like marijuana. However, minutes later, the manager returned—accompanied with a police officer. She once again confronted the couple, saying, “I asked you to leave and come back tomorrow because you smell like weed.”
On May 17, attorney Carlos Moore, who represents the couple, told NBC News that his clients did not smoke the day prior to their visit to the restaurant and do not smoke marijuana at all.
This is not the first time a manager of this establishment has asked Black patrons to leave, accusing them of smelling like marijuana. According to WHBQ-TV, in August, another Black couple was told to leave, this time a police officer and a high school principal.
Marcus Mosby, the patron who was asked to leave along with his wife, said he felt racially-profiled. In his experience, it was not until other employees and nearby patrons confirmed that they did not smell anything that the pair was seated. It is unclear whether Hollins was the same manager from this encounter.
The defendants listed in this new federal lawsuit are the restaurant; its parent company, Hillstone Restaurant Group Inc.; General Manager Ralph Price; and the restaurant manager, Hollins.
In a statement released on May 17, the Holston Restaurant Group declined to comment on the pending litigation but did state, “Our Company does not discriminate as anyone who has ever dined at our restaurant can attest. We are proud [that] guests of all races choose to dine regularly at Houston’s and appreciate our hospitality.”
Price did not respond to a request for comment from NBC News; Hollins was unable to be contacted. When the restaurant was called, a woman who answered the phone said Hollins “no longer works for the company.”
When asked whether Hollins remains an employee, a representative at Hillstone did not immediately respond.