Manhattan judge rules bar was allowed to throw out man in MAGA hat
New York's discrimination laws do not protect political beliefs, the judge ruled, meaning an East Village bar had the right to kick out a Trump supporter.
If you get kicked out of a bar while wearing a “Make America Great Again hat,” don’t cry religious discrimination.
A Manhattan judge threw out a case this week in which a man alleged that an East Village bar illegally discriminated against him by kicking him out when he was wearing his “MAGA” hat. The law does not protect against political discrimination, the judge ruled, according to the New York Post.
The saga started when Philadelphia man Greg Piatek went to The Happiest Hour, a bar in the East Village, in January 2017.
Piatek says that he was subjected to “unlawful ridicule and discrimination,” leading to a bar manager asking that he remove his hat or else be ejected from the premises, according to court documents.
The lawyer for The Happiest Bar denies that Piatek was refused service because of his support of President Donald Trump.
But still, Piatek sued, citing discrimination on the basis of spirituality and saying that he suffered emotional distress from the incident. The MAGA hat “holds significant spiritual and symbolic import” to Piatek, according to court documents.
It was even noted in court documents that Piatek did not wear his red MAGA hat “as a fashion accessory,” but that it was “an essential component of [his] overall personal and spiritual expression.”
Elizabeth Conway, the lawyer for the Happiest Hour, pointed out that New York’s discrimination laws do not protect political or patriotic views.
In court on Wednesday, Manhattan Justice David Cohen asked Piatek’s attorney, Paul Liggieri, how the bar staff was supposed to know of Piatek’s religious beliefs, the Post reported. Liggieri responded that they were aware because he was wearing the hat.
Judge Cohen tossed the case, ruling that, “Plaintiff does not state any faith-based principle to which the hat relates. 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.”
Jon Neidich, owner of The Happiest Hour, said in a statement that the bar does not discriminate and it was Piatek's behavior that got him ejected.
"What's gotten lost in this story is that the guest wasn't kicked out because he was wearing a Trump hat — he was asked to leave after being verbally abusive to our staff, which is something we don't tolerate regardless of who you are," he said. "And this is after he spent almost $200. The 20 percent tip he left would seem to indicate he was satisfied with the service he received."