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Student Wins Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Against Restaurant

April 7, 2020

A district court judge ruled Monday that a Pennsylvania restaurant must pay a former college student $40,000 for racial discrimination. The decision closes a lawsuit in which the student claimed an employee called him the N-word and did not process his food order, according to court documents.

Ricky Lee Bugg Jr., a black student who attended Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa., at the time of the incident in January 2017, said he put in an order at Just Wing It, a local restaurant chain, and was called a racial slur by Christopher Behney, who was working at the restaurant. Bugg said he was told by Nikki Meyer, the owner of the Annville restaurant, that he had to pay for his food before receiving it, which the restaurant does not ask of its white customers.

According to the complaint, Behney told Bugg as he and his friends were leaving the restaurant to, “get out, n-----s, Trump’s president now, I can say what I want.” In a press conference after the incident, Meyer said the restaurant was not racist and that Behney “merely repeated the slur” to Bugg after he had said it, reported. However, Just Wing It failed to appear in court and did not file a reply to Bugg’s lawsuit, Jennifer Wilson, judge for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, wrote in court records.

The incident sparked a demonstration for racial healing on the Lebanon Valley campus a month later, reported. The court agreed that the incident "affected Bugg greatly, and that he should receive damages for emotional distress and humiliation," Wilson wrote in a memorandum. "Bugg’s perspective -- based on his life experience up to that point -- that he was an equal, valued, and respected member of the community was cruelly destroyed in an instant, because of the unprovoked racist insults that Behney hurled at him."

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