AG Platkin Announces Consent Order With Restaurant that Allegedly Discriminated on the Basis of Gender Identity in Violation of Law Against Discrimination

Asbury Park Restaurant Agrees to Broad Equitable Relief, to Adopt New Gender-Neutral Dress Code, and to Pay Penalty

For Immediate Release: June 28, 2024

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Division on Civil Rights
– Sundeep Iyer, Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Tara Oliver
OAGpress@njoag.gov

TRENTON — Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced today that the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) has resolved a complaint alleging that Brando’s Citi Cucina, a restaurant in Asbury Park, discriminated against a non-binary patron in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD).

The consent order announced today resolves a complaint that resulted in DCR issuing a Finding of Probable Cause against Brando’s in 2023. In the Finding of Probable Cause, DCR found that the restaurant refused service to the complainant, a non-binary patron, because the restaurant staff believed the patron did not comply with the restaurant’s gender-binary dress code, which barred men from wearing sleeveless shirts while not imposing similar restrictions on women.  Even though the patron had previously informed staff that they were non-binary, the restaurant insisted that the patron adhere to the restaurant’s rules for men’s clothing.

In the consent order announced today, Brando’s agreed, among other things, to adopt a gender-neutral dress code for customers and employees at its Asbury Park location, as well as at the four other restaurants it owns in Monmouth Beach, Marlboro, and Old Bridge. That dress code will apply equally to all patrons no matter their gender identity. As part of the resolution, Brando’s also agreed that it would not refuse to serve any person because of their gender identity or any other protected characteristic under the LAD. And it agreed to provide monetary compensation to the complainant and to pay a penalty to DCR.

“In New Jersey, we refuse to tolerate discrimination against any LGBTQ+ individuals,” said Attorney General Platkin. “Today’s resolution is the result of the hard work we’ve committed to doing so that no one is mistreated in New Jersey because of their gender identity or gender expression.”

“New Jersey’s civil rights laws make it unlawful to discriminate based on gender identity. Those protections mean that places open to the public, including restaurants, can’t maintain gender-binary dress codes that exclude LGBTQ+ people,” said DCR Director Sundeep Iyer. “As today’s settlement signals, we will continue our work to enforce the robust protections our laws provide against discrimination based on gender identity or expression.”

As part of the consent order resolving the complaint, Brando’s has agreed to:

  • adopt a gender-neutral dress code for customers and employees for all of its New Jersey locations;
  • arrange for training on the LAD, on preventing LGBTQ+ discrimination in places of public accommodation, and on Brando’s newly adopted gender-neutral dress code for all owners, managers, patrons, and employees;
  • refrain from discriminating against anyone on the basis of gender identity or expression, or other protected characteristics, in violation of the LAD;
  • refrain from taking any action or establishing any practice or policy that has a disparate impact on members of a protected class in violation of the LAD;
  • refrain from engaging in “retaliatory conduct…or authoriz[ing] any of its employees or agents to engage in any such conduct”;
  • pay $5,000 to the complainant; and
  • pay a civil penalty of $5,000 to the Division on Civil Rights.

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DCR is the state agency responsible for preventing and eliminating discrimination and bias-based harassment in places of public accommodation (e.g., places open to the public like schools, businesses, hospitals, etc.), employment, and housing. DCR enforces the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the New Jersey Family Leave Act, and the Fair Chance in Housing Act.

To find out more information, go to www.njcivilrights.gov.

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