Introduction to the Crisis
In the early 90’s, several minorities were mistreated across the United States in Denny’s restaurants. Whether they were being completely denied service or being humiliated by having to prepay, minorities felt there was a double standard in the way Denny’s dealt with customers.
Accusations were made in Maryland, California, Florida, and several other locations in the country.
- In 1992, eighteen African-American students were refused service at a Denny’s in San Jose (Martin 1992).
- Again in 1992, a 38-year-old Sacramento man, Douglas McNeal, and his wife were asked to pre-pay (Smith 1996).
- In Orange County, California, Denny’s discriminated against five African-Americans in three incidences by refusing service or requesting prepayment (Menn 1993).
- A year later, nine employees of the Everglades Correctional Facility in Florida, six of which were African-American, were kicked out of Denny’s restaurant. They were told by management staff that the restaurant was out of food after the holiday weekend. Moments later, a white woman was served without hesitation (Guilarte 1999).
- In Annapolis, six secret service agents entered a Denny’s with their white co-workers and were denied service while their white counterparts were seated and served immediately. This story attracted a great deal of media attention and became one of the most pivotal cases in Denny’s demise.
Approximately 295,000 individuals claimed suit against Denny’s restaurant. At first Denny’s denied most of the claims, but in 1994, they settled two class action lawsuits for $54 million (Adamson).
Now every employee, from wait staff to managers, receives specific training that emphasizes respect for differences among people (Adamson 2000). In 2000, Fortune Magazine ranked Denny’s in the top 10 companies for minorities in America. Denny’s not only crawled out of their ruins; they flourished.