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Denny’s Apologizes For Complaint

May 5, 1998

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Four years after settling a discrimination lawsuit for $46 million, Denny’s apologized Tuesday to 40 black sixth-graders and their chaperones who said they were denied service at a Florida restaurant.

The group from Baltimore was on a field trip to Disney World when they stopped last Thursday at the Denny’s in Ocoee, Fla. They said they were not greeted or seated.

After seating themselves, they said they waited 20 minutes before some received menus, and left an hour later without being served while white customers who entered later were helped.

``We apologize to the students and chaperones who did not feel welcome during their visit,″ Denny’s President John A. Romandetti said in a statement.

``It is clear that these customers do not believe they were treated with the courtesy and respect that we pledge to every Denny’s guest. For that, we are sorry.″

The complaint was reported by Denny’s to the Office of the Civil Rights Monitor, which reports to the Justice Department, Romandetti said.

``If the investigation shows discrimination has occurred, we will take swift, decisive action to ensure that the individuals involved are no longer associated with Denny’s. We cannot take action until those facts are in,″ he said.

The $46 million discrimination suit settled in 1994 was filed by black Secret Service agents who said they were denied service at a restaurant. The complaints were among a series of discrimination claims at Denny’s restaurants around the nation.

As part of an agreement with the Justice Department, the chain agreed to retrain employees, feature minorities in its ads and hire an outside lawyer to monitor compliance.

The South Carolina-based Denny’s has 891 company-owned and 716 franchised restaurants nationwide.

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