What are possible legal repercussions for someone who stands up in a restaurant and says something like "this n-r must leave the place where white people eat"? What laws apply here?

  • 4
    The someone is a patron, not an owner or employee, correct?
    – Damila
    Jan 21, 2022 at 19:02
  • 1
    @Damila yes, a patron.
    – user855286
    Jan 21, 2022 at 19:20
  • 2
    That's bigotry (which is not illegal) not discrimination, which afaik private citizens cannot do to each other under the legal definition. If calling someone that isn't libel or slander, then you're SoL. - What can I do if someone does some racist shit? Leave.
    – Mazura
    Jan 22, 2022 at 4:00

2 Answers 2


The only applicable law is the local trespassing law. If he wants, the proprietor can demand that the patron leave, and if the patron does not leave, he can be arrested for trespassing. It uncontroversial that the First Amendment protects racist declarations.

  • That's interesting, thanks. Does anything change if we're talking about peer coworkers in a company?
    – user855286
    Jan 21, 2022 at 20:25
  • 2
    The employer will have to address this to prevent recurrences, otherwise they might be held liable for having a discriminatory employment policy, but that may involve some iffy legal analysis.
    – user6726
    Jan 21, 2022 at 22:09
  • but the employee who did this isn't responsible before the law?
    – user855286
    Jan 21, 2022 at 22:31
  • 7
    No, because the employment discrimination laws regulate the business, not the employee (or customer).
    – user6726
    Jan 21, 2022 at 22:36
  • 5
    "It uncontroversial" did we miss out a word there?
    – Richard
    Jan 22, 2022 at 9:23

In England, this action* would be a breach of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994), specifically that...

A person is guilty of an offence if, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress, he ... uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour ... thereby causing that or another person harassment, alarm or distress.

As to punishment, this would be determined by a judge based on a number of factors, but not to exceed

imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale [e.g. unlimited] or to both.

*Noting that this is not 'discrimination', but rather 'abusive behaviour'

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .