Hawaii Rights Commission to Review Mandatory Tips for Foreign-Language Diners

FoxNews, February 3, 2011

A restaurant has attracted the attention of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission with a notice that it will add a 15 percent gratuity to the checks of patrons who don’t speak English.

The warning is in fine print on the menu at Keoni by Keo’s. The menu also says parties of six or more will be charged the same amount.

The Waikiki restaurant told KITV that its customer base includes many international travelers who, by custom, do not tip. The restaurant says it’s merely trying to help its customers and wait staff.

About 17 percent of the nearly 7 million tourists who visited Hawaii last year were from Japan, where people do not leave tips in restaurants.

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Bill Hoshijo, executive director of the Civil Rights Commission, didn’t speak specifically about the restaurant, but said language referring to non-English speaking customers could be a problem.

“Discrimination based on language is ancestry discrimination,” Hoshijo said.

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Bryce Richards, a visitor from Mile City, Mont., disagreed with the charge.

“I don’t think it’s fair. I think with a mixed culture we’ve got today, they should accommodate everybody,” Richards said.

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