Posted on March 9, 2005

$68,000 For Alleged Racism Is Yanked in Appeals Court

Steve Patterson, Chicago Sun-Times, Mar. 8

A man who found a half-eaten chicken wing in his pot roast dinner failed to prove he was being racially harassed at a Denny’s restaurant, a court ruled Monday.

The Illinois Court of Appeals reversed a $68,000 verdict for Nathaniel Washington, who said white workers put the chicken wing on his plate as a joke and that he feared he’d contracted AIDS from eating someone else’s food.

But Denny’s workers, including the Latino cook who made Washington’s food and the Indian waitress who served him, said there was no malicious plot involved.

Washington later admitted he’d eaten about half his food before noticing the chicken wing and “assumed” someone else had bitten it.

But the stress he felt from the incident was strong enough, he said, it caused him to regularly fight with his wife, lose sleep and drink half a pint of liquor a day.

Though the Illinois Human Rights Commission said Denny’s should pay Washington’s $28,816 in legal bills and give him $40,000 for his suffering, the appellate court ordered a new hearing.