Lambda Legal Files Discrimination Complaint Against Restaurant for ‘Gay Bitches’ Receipt

Lambda Legal has filed a discrimination complaint against a Washington, DC hookah bar for leaving a transgender woman a bar receipt reading "gay bitches".

GaybitchesAmira Gray, whom Lambda is representing, says she went to Bistro 18 in August of 2013 with some friends and, after receiving terrible service from the wait staff, says she was "extremely hurt, embarrassed and upset" at then having received the receipt with the message. 

Said Gray to Lambda:

When my friends and I saw the receipt, we were humiliated and embarrassed. We went in planning to enjoy Bistro 18 just like everyone else in the hookah bar that evening, but it turned into a disturbing experience. I am standing up for my friends and me because I don't think anyone should have to go through that.

Gray added that a friend of hers brought the receipt to the manager who "snatched" it and brought back a new one with no anti-gay slur. 

In the complaint, Gray said, "I believe I was denied the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of Bistro 18 based on my gender identity (transgender woman), gender expression, perceived sexual orientation, and personal appearance, as well as my association with friends of mine who are gay or may have been perceived as lesbian or gay, in violation of D.C. code 2–1401.31."

Dru Levasseur, Lambda Legal Transgender Rights Project Director, said:

Discrimination against LGBT customers is a widespread problem that often goes unaddressed in businesses across the country. That this happened in Washington, D.C., where LGBT people have strong protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and personal appearance, points out the importance of ensuring existing laws are enforced. By standing up for herself and her friends, Amira is taking a stand for all LGBT people who are targeted by businesses for unequal treatment because of who they are.


  1. Timothy says

    See the Bilerico Project for the manager’s account of this: the waiter was immediately fired in front of the restaurant and other action was quickly taken. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem Lambda Legal did their homework on this one.

  2. says

    Ditto what Timothy said. Uncharacteristically, Lambda may have jumped the gun on this one. These restaurant stories should always be carefully vetted before people–and especially legal organizations–react. There are enough actual cases to pursue.

  3. Jack says

    I must be missing the part where they were denied equal treatment. All I see is that they were called a name they don’t like. That’s not the same as not being treated equally.

  4. John says

    Bilerico has a better take on this story, but it’s pretty ridiculous that in today’s America you can get hauled in front of a human rights commission just because a former employee got a customer’s panties in a bunch.

    Bistro 18 is a gay-friendly place in a gay-friendly neighborhood which has gay staff working there. The owner even fired the employee on the spot.

  5. AJ says

    I’m so tired of this stuff. It’s going too far. People need to get thicker skin and stop getting so butthurt over meaningless crap like this. “They called me WHAT on my receipt?!! I’ll SUE!!” Get over it. Stop identifying so much with your sexuality and gender identity and this will stop happening to you. It’s not the most important thing about you. The person was fired.

  6. Tyler says

    Shipshaper, you keep posting comments “if RuPaul did blank, there would be on outrage” on a bunch of threads today. If RuPaul did it, there would be no malice attached. The intent of the server in this instance was to demean these customers. If you can’t understand the difference, you probably shouldn’t be commenting on the issue.

  7. gregorybrown says

    That kind of comment is unacceptable on a receipt regardless of the content. Looking at what these folks consumed, I might mutter to myself “drunken bitches” but….

  8. Rowan says

    Trans is the new hot trend with the liberal media and LGBT industry, so of course they will sue which they shouldn’t if the restaurant did the right thing.

    But why people feel the need to call people names or put them down is beyond me.

    Yeah Shipshaper-the exact same thing! Moron.

  9. anon says

    We have seen many stories about descriptions of patrons being written on receipts, I guess in order to identify where they are seated.

    As I recall restaurants used to identify tables with a numbering or letter identifying system. Did those become too difficult for today’s servers to manage that they are now required to creating written descriptions of the customers in order to find their location in the restaurant?

  10. says

    So they are suing because they had their feelings hurt? Did they have sub-service compared to everyone else because she is transgendered? If this is another hoax, Lambda Legal will have a lot of egg on its face.

  11. John says

    @ Matt

    The manager DID apologize for the ordeal and comped their bill. He even sacked the server on the spot!

    Lambda Legal clearly dropped the ball on this one… a little due diligence on their part would’ve avoided this whole thing.

  12. Dave says

    In other words, transgender benefits from sexual orientation anti-discrimination provision. Think of all the transgenders who could have benefited from the passage of ENDA. But instead, trans activists insisted that nothing pass unless it explicitly covered “gender identity.” So nothing has passed and millions of people suffered as a result, including trans people.

    This is the result of getting into bed with nutty trans activists.

  13. Tyler says

    Think of all the gay-friendly (though I doubt it) people on this site who hate transgender people. They don’t see a problem with what this server because they’d do the same thing if they had the balls. Instead they rant about made-up “homophobic” Trans people holding gay rights back, because of all people in the LGBT, it’s only the L’s and G’s that really matter.

    We know you think Trans people are icky, Dave and June. That’s not a good enough reason anymore to promote hate.

  14. anon says

    @JUNE… a more detailed store posted at another site told that this group of customers was given terrible service by the wait staff. They were ignored and had to go to the bar themselves in order to get drinks etc.

  15. Gay Guy says

    To Christian. You can’t use for having your feelings hurt.

    However, this is intimidation and carries an implied threat or at least an implied “don’t come back.” It’s the same as putting the “N” word on the bill. Nobody would be defending that; this is equally indefensible!

  16. Deacon Maccubbin says

    Doesn’t this site ever check their stories BEFORE publishing them?

    Let me say, right up front…I’ve never been to Bistro 18 and am unlikely to every go. I don’t smoke, hookahs or otherwise. So this isn’t a review of their food, drinks or service. But it’s clear that this business is getting a raw deal from Lambda Legal and THAT is what concerns me. I speak as one of those who helped put the District’s Human Rights Law on the books originally so I know a little something about it and Lambda Legal (an organization that I have always supported) has simply perverted the appropriate use of that law in this case.

    Yes, it’s clear, from both the complaint and the owner’s/manager’s statements, that a group of patrons were disrespected by a server at this establishment. That point is not in dispute. But when that was brought to management’s attention, they acted immediately to address the situation appropriately. They fired the server responsible on the spot. They apologized to the group. They comped the group’s drinks.

    The same group returned on a later date and, once again, the management comped their drinks to try to make up for the disrespect they had experienced before and to let them know that their patronage was welcome.

    Furthermore, the establishment has a history — they have often hosted LGBT parties and events, welcomed LGBT groups, and hired LGBT employees. There is no history of discriminatory actions on the part of this business, its management or employees, other than this one incident by this one former employee.

    The business responded appropriately and should not be castigated, by Lambda Legal or anyone else. The complaint will wind its way through the DC Office of Human Rights which will consider the statements and actions by all parties and make a determination. I’d be amazed if that determination was anything other than “not guilty.” It’s fine for Lambda Legal to represent the complainant, but they should do so within the parameters of the complaint process, not by fomenting unjust and defamatory vigilantism in social media.

    Here’s a link to a news source that took the time to research the story before publishing it:

  17. Island Planet says

    Perfect example of grow the hell up. The restaurant treated you badly – so don’t go back. Maybe even give them a snarky review on Yelp. But sue them? Seems the comment on the receipt was entirely accurate.

  18. EdA says

    The report on Towle Road states:

    Dru Levasseur, Lambda Legal Transgender Rights Project Director, said:

    Discrimination against LGBT customers is a widespread problem that often goes unaddressed in businesses across the country.

    and the quote continues to allege that the server’s description of the patrons was not addressed. However, based on the Bilerico report, the Bistro 18 took immediate and substantial steps to remedy the problem.

    The two reports are mutually exclusive, and Bil Browning has checked out the accuracy of the bistro’s claim.

    On the one hand, I would sort-of “hope” that Lambda Legal’s claim were valid because if it were false, it would emulate the tactics of NOM and the sociopathic and psychopathic Christianists AND severely damage Lambda Legal’s credibility if they were to pursue genuine grievances AND play into the hands of the homophobes who claim that anti-discrimination laws would lead to great numbers of frivolous lawsuits. On the other hand, if the complaint is false, then in addition to the issues I just highlighted, which include the damage to Lambda Legal’s ability to pursue valid complaints, Lambda Legal will have massively smeared an ally gratuitously.

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