June 14, 2006

WWGD: What Would Geno’s Do?

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday that Philadelphia’s Commission on Human Relations (“PCHR”) filed a complaint on Monday against Geno’s Steaks alleging violations of two of the City’s anti-discrimination laws: (1) refusing service to someone because of his or her national origin; and (2) posting written notices to the effect that services will be denied on account of national origin. (See Phila. Code §§ 9-1105(a)(1)(a) & (b).)

What puzzles me is this: the inflammatory signs at Geno’s have received national attention, scarring Philadelphia’s image and eroding its reputation as the City of Brotherly Love. People in Philly are pissed at Geno’s owner, Joe Vento; he has received complaint letters and even death threats. So, then, why hasn’t any non-English speaking, cheesesteak lover filed a private law suit against Geno’s?

Normally, if you want to sue for a violation of federal or state discrimination laws, you have to exhaust all of your administrative remedies before you file your lawsuit in court. The administrative process, however, can be long and drawn-out, and often is criticized as an impediment to true legal redress. The Fair Practices chapter of Philadelphia’s City Code, however, does not appear to have such a limitation. Rather, it has it’s own private right of action that does not appear to be limited by an exhaustion requirement. (See Phila. Code §§ 9-1110.)

To put it in plain English (because, of course, that’s what Geno’s wants us to do), if you believe someone discriminated against you in violation of Philly’s Fair Practices Code, it looks like you don’t have to wait for a green light from some administrative agency before you go to court, which is sorta like not having to wait in line to get your cheesesteak after you stumble out of Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar at 2:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Plus, the Code allows you to ask for attorney’s fees, which is kinda like having Geno’s pay someone to stand in line to get you a Whiz wit. Capisce?

All I’m saying is, ask yourself this question: If you’ve been wronged by Geno’s antics, why not show them that you know what it really means to be a citizen in this country and hire a lawyer? After all, isn’t that the American way? If that’s the American way, isn’t that what Geno’s would do? And if that’s what Geno’s would do, isn’t that what you should do?

Speaking of the American way, I’ll end this post with a disclaimer. After all, what sign is more American than a good ol’ fashioned disclaimer? Being fond of signs themselves, I’m sure Geno’s would agree.


The information provided in this blog post is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to certain legal issues and cheesesteaks. (Keep in mind, I write a food and wine blog. Any lawyer who has time to write a food and wine blog probably isn’t worth listening to for legal advice, especially if the lawyer analogizes discrimination law to standing in line for cheesesteaks.) The information is not guaranteed to be correct, complete or current. PhilaFoodie makes no warranty, expressed or implied, about the accuracy or reliability of the information in this post or at any other website to which this post is linked. (Nobody really reads or links to this blog anyway, but, hey—belts and suspenders, yo.)

This information is not intended to create any legal relationship between PhilaFoodie and the person reading this post. This post is not intended to create and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and PhilaFoodie. (I could be Joe Vento, for all you know. Would you want Joe Vento to be your attorney? I didn’t think so.) This post is not soliciting clients and does not propose any type of transaction. You should not act or rely on any information in this post without seeking the advice of an attorney. (Again, I’m makin’ it up as I go along here. Just in case that wasn’t clear by now.) The determination of whether you need legal services and your choice of a lawyer are very important matters that should not be based on blog posts, especially posts from a food and wine blog, for cryin’ out loud.


Anonymous said...

As your former legal writing instructor I am disappointed that it took you 500 words to say "it's just my opinion I could be wrong" but I'm even more disappointed that your disclaimer was lacking in Latin terminology. :-) But I think the reason people aren't suing Geno's is because the ones who are affected can't read the sign because it's written in English. Just an obervation.

PhilaFoodie said...

I plead nolo contendre on the charge of failing to use Latin, counselor. How could I have forgotten it? It is the sine qua non of a legal disclaimer, after all.