Today while inside a Farmers Market in California, I asked a shopper to cover her mouth after coughing with no mask protection. The owner of the store came to me asking me to get out of the store and refused service because I was harassing his customers. After explaining that the customer was coughing too close to other people and I without mask protection, now that it is highly recommended amid Covid-19. I felt I had the right to demand such request to prevent cross-contact contamination. I believe the owner or manager of the store did not have enough evidence or reasons to refuse service and my rights were abused. Please advice how to proceed to establish legal rights.

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    Does this answer your question? Can a store accuse me of something and ban me without proof?
    – Greendrake
    Apr 12, 2020 at 2:11
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    What you feel is irrelevant to the determination of rights held by anybody, and "demand[ing] such request" makes no sense; either you demanded it and should have authority to do so or you requested it and should expect no as an answer. As written, you clearly acknowledge that you were harassing customers, and the staff had more than enough justification to remove you.
    – user4657
    Apr 12, 2020 at 2:20
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    Private businesses have the right to refuse service for just about any reason that isn't discrimination. You don't have a "right" to be on a private businesses property. Please don't put your email address, name, and phone number in a public forum like this, you're begging for spam and scams.
    – Ron Beyer
    Apr 12, 2020 at 3:58
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    There's two things: The store owner is an absolute idiot for ignoring people coughing at the foods because that is going to drive customers away. On the other hand, the store owner has the right to be an absolute idiot and remove you from the store instead.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 12, 2020 at 8:20
  • Look at it that way - they helped you make the correct decision to leave the store. They did not abuse your rights - they just exercised theirs.
    – davidgo
    Apr 14, 2020 at 10:05

1 Answer 1


Farmer's Market is private property, which means that the owner gets to set the rule according to which you are allowed to enter and remain on their property. There is no fundamental right to be in a business, either under the US Constitution or California's. While you have a constitutional right to put a soapbox on the public sidewalk and denounce or extol whatever you like, there is no such right on another person's property. You also have a right to express racially and sexually abhorrent content on the street. Your right to express your viewpoint ends at the store's doors. The manager has a property right to withdraw the implicit permission to enter and remain that is implicit in running a publicly accessible store. Your constitutional right to say whatever you want has to do with government action,not private action. You have no right to compel individuals to listen to your viewpoint on private property. It is a business decision, well within the rights of the property owner, for him to find your conduct unacceptable and grounds for expulsion. You do have a recourse: shop somewhere that doesn't care what you say to their customers.

  • A retail store is a public accommodation under US state & federal law, so it's not quite true that "the owner gets to set the rule according to which you are allowed to enter and remain on their property". The owner can't say, for example, "No Blacks Allowed" or "No Jews Allowed". However, the laws about public accommodations almost certainly don't apply to this particular instance, since the OP wasn't being barred on the basis of belonging to a protected class. Apr 13, 2020 at 20:02

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