A Flushing restaurant has admitted to discriminating against customers who practice Falun Gong and violating their civil rights, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
In a consent decree issued last Thursday, the owner of Lucky Joy Restaurant, at 41-10 Main St. in Flushing, admitted engaging in a pattern of ejecting 10 patrons, including an 8-year-old girl, from the restaurant on three occasions in 2008 because they were wearing clothing that displayed the doctrines of the religious movement.
Falun Gong has been banned in China for more than a decade due to its practices and has been on the rise in the United States.
“It is disgraceful that a person would be refused service in a restaurant for doing nothing more than exercising their right to wear clothing with a religious message,” Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.
The manager was not available to comment by press time Tuesday evening.
Under the agreement, the Chinese restaurant’s owner is barred from discriminating against any patron based on “religion, religious expression, religious dress or association with Falun Gong,” according to the U.S. attorney. The owner has agreed that the staff will attend special training that will teach them the non-discrimination requirements listed in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the U.S. attorney said.
The procedures will also be posted in English and Chinese language signs in the restaurant, which serves a range of widely served Chinese foods like noodles and pork and chicken dishes as well as specialties less commonly found in the United States, including pork blood and intestine soup, sea cucumber chowder and stewed turtle.
“People of all religious faiths have the right to be free from discrimination when they enter a restaurant to order a meal. This office will work tirelessly to ensure that restaurant service is not denied to anyone in this district on the basis of their religion,” said Loretta E. Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
The Falun Gong have had similar problems in the Flushing community before. In 2002, 27 Queens Falun Gong practitioners filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Jamaica against two Chinese newspapers, alleging that the papers had slandered their group.
That same year there were weeks of discussions between the mainstream Chinese-American community and Falun Gong representatives that eventually led to the group being allowed to participate in the annual Lunar New Year Parade in Flushing.
The Falun Gong was outlawed in China in 1999. Since that time, several hundred of its practitioners have been tortured to death in the communist country, according to the international human rights organization Amnesty International.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@c
©2010 Community News Group
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