A Manhattan judge ruled Wednesday that kicking a Trump supporter out of a bar does not violate the law — because the law does not protect against political discrimination.
Greg Piatek of Philadelphia claims he was refused service and eventually removed from a New York City bar in January 2017 for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, in a lawsuit against the establishment.
“Anyone who supports Trump – or believes in what you believe – is not welcome here! And you need to leave right now because we won’t serve you!” Piatek claims the staff of The Happiest Hour told him.
Widget not in any sidebars
Piatek claimed the incident “offended his sense of being an American,” The New York Post reported.
— New York Post Metro (@nypmetro) April 25, 2018
The lawyer representing The Happiest Hour, Elizabeth Conway, argued that he was not discriminated against because only religious, not political, beliefs are protected under state and city discrimination law.
“Supporting Trump is not a religion,” Conway argued.
Piatek’s attorney, Paul Liggieri, responded in court, “The purpose of the hat is that he wore it because he was visiting the 9/11 Memorial.”
“He was paying spiritual tribute to the victims of 9/11. The Make America Great Again hat was part of his spiritual belief,” Liggieri claimed. “Rather than remove his hat, instead he held true to his spiritual belief and was forced from the bar,” Liggieri told Justice David Cohen, the Post reported.
The judge pressed Liggieri on the spiritual nature of his client’s belief, saying the bar staff would not be aware of Piatek’s specific religious philosophies.
“How many members are in this spiritual program that your client is engaged in?” the judge asked.
“Your honor, we don’t allege the amount of individuals,” Liggieri said.
“So, it’s a creed of one?” the judge asked.
“Yes, your honor,” Liggieri replied, the Post reported.
The judge eventually made a ruling on the matter, saying the incident amounted to nothing more than a “petty slight,” the Post said.
“Plaintiff does not state any faith-based principle to which the hat relates,” Judge Cohen said. “Here the claim that plaintiff was not served and eventually escorted out of the bar because of his perceived support for President Trump is not outrageous conduct.”
Piatek was suing for unspecified emotional damage and will review with Liggieri to determine whether or not to appeal the verdict.
The Happiest Hour denied that Piatek had been removed in the first place, stating Piatek “was sufficiently pleased with his service at the bar [and] that he added” a $36 tip onto the $186 tab, according to The New York Post. The bar owners suggest Piatek’s lawsuit was a “publicity stunt.”