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Right to Refuse Service

 
 
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2017 03:14 pm
I had a discussion a while back with a co-worker about the right of a business owner to refuse service. This was prompted by the case where a bakery owner refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. the discussion went way beyond that particular case.
My friend maintained that a business owner has the absolute right to refuse service for any reason whatsoever. I took the position that in some cases refusing service could lead to dire consequences for the customer and so the business owner had an obligation to provide service. My example was a gas station out in the desert. If the owner refused service to someone who was out of gas and had no alternative place to buy gas and no other transportation, the refusal could lead to the death of the motorist. Another example was how back in the Jim Crow era, Blacks were refused service, employment and housing in some places and that lead to segregated neighborhoods, poverty and high crime rates; problems for which they were later blamed.
I'm interested in your opinions on this from legal, ethical and practical perspectives. I look forward to the ensuing discussion.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 10 • Views: 3,142 • Replies: 75

 
centrox
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2017 03:39 pm
In my country, (the UK) it is legal to refuse service for any reason (including no reason), provided the refusal is not on grounds of sex, race, disability, gender, sexual orientation and religion or belief. That seems a reasonable position to me.
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2017 03:41 pm
@centrox,
Quote:
it is legal to refuse service for any reason, provided the refusal is not on grounds of sex, race, disability, gender, sexual orientation and religion or belief.


That is a pretty big list of exceptions. Other than lack of money, what other reasons are there that you would refuse someone's business?
centrox
 
  3  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2017 03:45 pm
Being in a dirty or offensive condition, bad behaviour, are a couple I can think of. Maybe I just don't like the look on their face. That would be perfectly legal, I don't have to give a reason, but probably not a good idea to make a habit of it if I want to make my business a success.

0 Replies
 
centrox
 
  4  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2017 03:48 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
That is a pretty big list of exceptions.

It is a small list. Don't start one of your 100 page argufests.

maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2017 03:59 pm
@centrox,
Every argufest has at least two sides, and every argufest I am part of features someone else ranting about Nazis Wink
InfraBlue
 
  4  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2017 04:05 pm
@maxdancona,
0 Replies
 
TomTomBinks
 
  3  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2017 06:33 pm
@maxdancona,
I know that refusing service because of race, religion etc. is frowned upon and possibly grounds for a lawsuit. Refusing service because a customer is abusive is acceptable.
I'm looking for opinions on when refusing service is OK. Varying opinions.
tibbleinparadise
 
  3  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2017 07:08 pm
@TomTomBinks,
If you run a business where you're dealing with the public you should be prepared to do business with the public, not just the public you like.

My wife gets super pissed off when I sell veggies to her ex-husband and his wife (they don't get along at all). I'd sell veggies to Satan himself if money is good. I'm in business to make money, not social and political statements.
PUNKEY
 
  2  
Reply Thu 24 Aug, 2017 09:03 am
I sometimes help out at a bar/restaurant. We have refused bar service to people who appear inebriated. I suppose they could fight that, but most don't.
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Thu 24 Aug, 2017 09:10 am
@tibbleinparadise,
tibbleinparadise wrote:

If you run a business where you're dealing with the public you should be prepared to do business with the public, not just the public you like.


'now that's a wonderful quotable quote

I think my only marker is legality. i.e. don't sell booze/drugs to underage kids. If my business could be shut down because I did something illegal, I wouldn't do it. Beyond that? Capitalism - a business is to make money.
centrox
 
  3  
Reply Thu 24 Aug, 2017 09:34 am
@PUNKEY,
PUNKEY wrote:
I sometimes help out at a bar/restaurant. We have refused bar service to people who appear inebriated. I suppose they could fight that, but most don't.

In my home jurisdiction (the United Kingdom) bar staff are not just permitted to refuse service to drunk people, they are legally required to do so. If a pub or bar gets a lot of police attention and serving drunks is happening, the alcohol licence can be withdrawn.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Aug, 2017 09:44 am
What about if someone came in to your business wearing a swastika?

centrox
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Aug, 2017 09:46 am
Folks, let's not feed trolls.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Aug, 2017 09:52 am
@centrox,
centrox wrote:

Folks, let's not feed trolls.


Really Centrox, you think that the definition of "troll" is anyone who suggests a throught that falls outside of your ideological bubble? Sorry if you are upset that I challenge your way of thinking.

The question I am raising is an interesting one. The discussion here is whether anyone would be excluded service... my hypothetical is completely relevant. I would like to hear what people would do if someone who they find despicable, but is not inebriated or any of the other examples, came to their business.

You are trying to stifle discussion because it makes you uncomfortable. Don't answer if you don't want to answer. But leave other people alone.
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Aug, 2017 02:03 pm
@maxdancona,
They'd probably get the **** beat out of them. The bar us full of U S Vets. The liberals stay quiet in there, too
0 Replies
 
TomTomBinks
 
  5  
Reply Thu 24 Aug, 2017 02:09 pm
@maxdancona,
That's exactly what discussions are made of. "What if?"
I personally would sell a swastika-wearing customer anything he wanted, as long as he wasn't preaching hate in my store or bothering other customers.
I also might engage this customer in conversation and let him know how I felt about his swastika. (Politely). If he then became abusive, I could refuse him service on those grounds.
0 Replies
 
ossobucotemp
 
  2  
Reply Thu 24 Aug, 2017 02:21 pm
@ehBeth,
We had art openings at our gallery once a month and served Calistoga Water and not too awful white wine, both in quite small glasses, plus some crackers. At the January openings, my business partner/friend served up a fair sized pot of black eye peas. The only persons we stopped at the door were those (few over the years) who were walking out with the glasses (real glass, not plastic). I don't remember anyone coming in inebriated, but there could have been one or two (not served, if so).
0 Replies
 
tibbleinparadise
 
  3  
Reply Thu 24 Aug, 2017 07:34 pm
@maxdancona,
I'd let them spend their money. Better in my hands than theirs!
0 Replies
 
emmett grogan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Aug, 2017 07:57 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
I am part of features someone else ranting about Nazis


Then stop defending people who call themselves Nazis and have absolutely no problem being called as Nazis.
 

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