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Federal Lawsuit Filed for Alleged Racial Bias at Denny’s

March 21, 1995

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Three black Denny’s customers who say they waited 90 minutes for breakfast orders that never came have filed a discrimination lawsuit against the restaurant.

The allegations mirror the 4,300 complaints of racial bias nationwide against the restaurant chain that resulted in a record $46 million payout to black patrons last year.

The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore alleges the restaurant violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when service was denied to Chukwuma Uba of Baltimore, Vanessa Miles of Salisbury and Kimble Brown of Mardela in August 1994.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs went to the Denny’s shortly after 2 a.m. and were told carryout service wasn’t available and they were seated at a table. As they waited, white customers were served and allowed to make carryout orders. The group finally left.

The lawsuit names as defendants Rommel Enterprises Limited Partnership, Oscar R. Rommel and Orpah L. Rommel, all of Baltimore. The restaurant is a Denny’s franchise.

Gary Miles, attorney for the defendants, had no comment because he had not seen the lawsuit.

Discrimination complaints against Denny’s restaurants came to light in April 1993, when six black Secret Service agents assigned to President Clinton were not served breakfast for 55 minutes at an Annapolis Denny’s, while 15 white agents in their group were served.

Denny’s reached an agreement in 1993 with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to create business and job opportunities for blacks.

In addition to the payouts, Denny’s said it would conduct 625 unannounced tests this year to ensure its 1,500 restaurants stop discriminatory treatment of black customers.

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