Pease in a Pod is a new chain of fast food type vegetarian restaurants operating in Virginia and North Carolina, serving a standardized menu of vegetable dishes for take-out as well as eat-in customers. Pease does not have a full wait-staff. Customers order their food and pick it up at the counter. However, once the customers are seated, Pease employees walk around refilling drinks and asking, “How is everything?” The chain promotes itself as healthy, upscale, inexpensive dining. As part of its regular menu, Pease is planning to serve beer from selected microbreweries, and a few types of Virginia wines, only by the glass. Pease has had some bad news lately. First, Pease received a notice from the Alcohol Beverage Commission in Virginia, that it was prohibited from serving any alcoholic beverages.
Regulation of Fast-Food Eating Establishments.
Section 1: Fast Food restaurant is defined as a restaurant serving a standardized menu, for take-out, or drive-through service, and may have tables for eating in the restaurant, but does not have table service. Section 2. Fast Food restaurants may not serve alcoholic beverages.
The CEO of Pease believes that serving wine and beer are essential to the restaurant’s appeal to the busy, successful executive type, who wants a healthy and quick meal on the way home from the gym. She believes that although the restaurant resembles traditional fast food in some ways, it is significantly different and the regulation should not be interpreted to apply to it. Moreover, she is sure that treating her restaurant differently from other, more traditional restaurants, is discriminatory and unlawful.
Pease has another problem. Pease uses an inventory computer program which it purchased online from a company in California. Apparently there was a coding glitch in the program, and all of the orders in a two week period were incorrect. Pease has incurred considerable expense in getting the food orders corrected, lost sales, excess upply of perishable foods, etc. Pease plans to sue the California company for damages in the amount of $30,000.
State whether she has a credible argument about discrimination.
I do not believe that there is any way, based on these facts, that Pease in a Pod can possibly have grounds to allege discrimination. There is nothing in these facts to suggest discrimination and there is nothing to suggest that the owner or anyone else connected to the restaurant is part of a group of people protected against discrimination.
Discrimination occurs when a person is treated differently because of their membership in a given group. There are laws that ban discrimination against people on the basis of their race, their age, their disability status, and many more attributes. The question as stated gives us no reason to believe that the state is refusing to give her a liquor license because she is a woman or because she is a member of any other group.
Theoretically, the owner might be able to argue that her restaurant is being discriminated against because it is a vegetarian restaurant. However, there is no evidence to show that other restaurants that are similar to hers, but not vegetarian, have been granted liquor licenses. This would make it hard to prove discrimination.
Discrimination has to be based on the group membership of the victim. It would have to be about some attribute of the owner or because of the vegetarian nature of the restaurant. You cannot successfully claim discrimination simply because you think that a law has been misinterpreted in your case. Without some evidence that she and her restaurant are being treated differently than similar establishments, there is no reason to think that she has a credible claim of discrimination.