Thursday, September 10, 2009

Anyone Remember Thai Toni?

Miami Beach Restaurant Operator To Pay $15,000, Follow Uniform Tipping Policy To Settle Charges

TALLAHASSEE -- The operator of a Miami Beach restaurant will pay $15,000 and follow a uniform tipping policy to settle charges that he unlawfully added a gratuity to the check of two patrons because of their race, Attorney General Bob Butterworth announced today.

Hiromi Takarada, acting manager of Thai Toni Restaurant, also agreed to submit himself and his employees and corporate associates to training about their responsibilities under state and federal nondiscrimination laws and regulations.

The $15,000 will be paid to the Florida Commission on Human Relations, which is to use the money in part to design, develop and conduct the nondiscrimination training for Thai Toni personnel. The remainder of the money will be used to develop an educational program, seminar or conference to be offered to businesses in Miami-Dade County to instruct them of their nondiscrimination responsibilities and to advance racial harmony. The program will be developed with input from the Miami chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"This agreement not only corrects a serious problem at one restaurant, it provides the resources to instruct other businesses on proper behavior toward their customers," Butterworth said.

Butterworth on November 8 charged Takarada with violating the state's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act when he added a 15 percent gratuity to the check of diners Charles Thompson and Theresa L. White, both of Miami. Takarada told Thompson and a police officer that the automatic tip was added because the customers were black and it was his belief that blacks do not tip well, Butterworth said.

Under the agreement, Thai Toni will follow a policy under which a 15 percent gratuity will be added to every patron's bill and customers will be advised they can either increase or decrease that amount. The uniform tipping policy will be duly noticed at the restaurant as required by state law.

The agreement also covers Takarada's wife, Hatsuse Takarada, and other businesses the couple operate. The agreement was handled by Assistant Attorney General Terrence Smith.

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