WASHINGTON–The Justice Department filed a consent decree August 12 resolving claims of religious discrimination against the Lucky Joy restaurant, located in Flushing, N.Y. In the consent decree, the restaurant’s owner, Lucky Joy Restaurant Inc., and its president, Xiao Rong Wu, admit that the restaurant engaged in a pattern or practice of wrongfully ejecting Falun Gong practitioners from the premises.
The investigation, conducted jointly by the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, revealed that Lucky Joy servers ejected ten patrons, including an eight-year-old girl, on three separate occasions during 2008 because members of their parties wore shirts displaying the tenets of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
Under the consent decree, which must first be approved by the federal court, the defendants are enjoined from discriminating against any patron based on religion, religious expression, religious dress or association with Falun Gong. Additionally, the defendants have agreed that they and their staff will attend training regarding the non-discrimination requirements of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, will adopt non-discrimination policies and procedures which will be posted publicly (in English and Chinese), and will finance independent testing designed to ensure that Lucky Joy no longer discriminates.
“It’s disgraceful that a person would be refused service in a restaurant for doing nothing more than exercising their right to wear clothing with a religious message,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously protect the rights of persons of all faiths to be free from discrimination in Flushing and across the country.”
Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, stated that “People of all religious faiths have the right to be free from discrimination when they enter a restaurant to order a meal. This Office will work tirelessly to ensure that restaurant service is not denied to anyone in this district on the basis of their religion.”