United States District Court, D. Connecticut
TAREK MOHAMED KHEDR, IKBAL ELSAYED ELGAZZAR, and M.K., Plaintiffs,
IHOP RESTAURANTS, LLC, et al., Defendants.
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.
case involves a claim of unlawful discrimination by a
restaurant that refused to serve an Arab-American family of
practicing Muslims. Defendants have moved to dismiss the
amended complaint, primarily on grounds that the amended
complaint does not plausibly allege a discriminatory motive.
I will deny the motion because I conclude that plaintiffs
have alleged sufficient facts that give rise to a plausible
claim of unlawful discrimination.
are Tarek Mohamed Khedr, Ikbal Elsayed Elgazzar, and their
12-year-old child "M.K." All three plaintiffs are
Arab-Americans and live in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. The
defendants are IHOP Restaurants, LLC (IHOP), Hartford
Management Solutions, LLC (Hartford Management), and Richard
Vasile. IHOP owns and operates franchise restaurants known as
the "International House of Pancakes, " and
Hartford Management manages and operates an IHOP restaurant
in Bloomfield, Connecticut, at which Vasile worked as the
morning of Saturday, March 28, 2015, plaintiffs went for a
meal to the IHOP restaurant in Bloomfield. Plaintiff Elgazzar
was wearing a traditional Muslim Hijab. Plaintiffs checked in
with the hostess, requested a window table to have breakfast,
and then waited for about 20 to 25 minutes without being
seated. There were three tables waiting to be cleaned, and
plaintiff Khedr politely asked the restaurant's
manager-defendant Vasile-to have someone from his staff clean
one of the tables.
facts about what happened next are more than adequately
alleged in the amended complaint (Doc. #27 at 6 (¶
18-21)); nevertheless plaintiff Khedr's sworn statement
to the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and
Opportunities (CHRO) helps paint a fuller picture of what
plaintiffs allegedly experienced that day:
The restaurant manager started to look at us up and down with
anger, hate, and dirty looks because my wife was wearing a
veil, as per our religion of Islam.
The restaurant manager then asked us to leave the restaurant
because it is a private property and a private business
saying that he has the legal right to kick us out any time
with or without reason. He stated that he would not serve us
any food, and I asked him, 'Why sir?' He said again,
'I will not serve you or your family any food.'
Furthermore, he ordered his staff (three of his waiters) not
to serve 'these people' any food. The employees and
customers who overheard the manager were surprised and
shocked by this manager's discriminatory attitude
directed at my family. I asked the manager for his name, he
refused. I was speechless, embarrassed, humiliated, and
insulted. I held my anger, trying to hide my feelings in
front of my wife and child without saying any word or comment
in response, but of course everyone around was well aware of
Doc. #30-1 at 3. Vasile refused to give plaintiffs his
name, and he then demanded that plaintiffs leave the
called the police. An officer arrived, went inside the
restaurant, and spoke to Vasile. The officer told plaintiffs
that Vasile had the right to remove plaintiffs from the
premises with or without any reason, and that Vasile had
requested that plaintiffs not return to the restaurant.
following Monday, Khedr called IHOP's corporate telephone
number to lodge a complaint. He spoke with a customer
relations representative and received a case number for
further follow up, but no further contact from IHOP was
received. That afternoon, Khedr received a telephone call
from the owner of Hartford Management. The owner asked Khedr
not to take any legal action until the owner reported back to
him, but no further communications were received from the
owner until plaintiffs filed a complaint about two weeks
later with the CHRO.
to the amended complaint, plaintiffs "were and are still
certain that[, ] because they are of Arab descent and
practicing Muslims, they had been the targets of racial,
national origin, and religious discrimination." The
amended complaint alleges several causes of action. Count One
alleges denial of the right to make and enforce contracts and
of equal benefits of the law, in violation of 42 U.S.C.
§ 1981. Count Two alleges racial discrimination in
a place of public accommodation, in violation of 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000a. Count Three alleges unlawful public
accommodation discrimination, in violation of Conn. Gen.
Stat. §§ 46a-64(a)(l) & (2). The remaining three
counts of the amended complaint allege state law claims of
intentional infliction of emotional distress, tortious
misconduct, and breach of contract.
background principles governing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss are well established. The Court must accept as true
all factual matters alleged in a complaint, although a
complaint may not survive unless its factual recitations
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.
See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009); Mastafa v. Chevron Corp.,770 F.3d 170, 177
(2d Cir. 2014) (same). The ...