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Can You Sue for Insults on a Receipt?

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

Three women in Stockton, California, were having a fun girls' night out until they saw the insults on their receipt at Chilly D's Sports Lounge.

At the top of the receipt where the customer's name is supposed to go, the bill said "Fat Girls." When the women questioned their server, he blamed another server who had conveniently left the building. The manager wasn't much help either, although he offered the women a 50% discount, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Unfortunately this isn't the first instance of insults printed on a customer's receipt. But what can victims do about it?

What the women did in this case is a good first step: confront the company. Insulting customers is unacceptable, and you should let them know they aren't getting away with it.

In many cases, the manager may not know that employees are acting inappropriately. Bringing it to the attention of people in charge could have a big impact. If nothing else, it tells the worker that his actions do have consequences.

Depending on the circumstances, there may also be a legal remedy for customers who were insulted. You can file a civil lawsuit with the help of an attorney.

If the insult is based on race or religion, then you may be able to bring a suit for harassment because of discrimination. Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination based on certain categories, including race, religion, and ethnicity.

But if the insult is based on different physical characteristics, like attractiveness or weight, harassment charges aren't necessarily appropriate.

In the case of the California women, they could potentially bring a lawsuit for intentional infliction of emotional distress. That claim requires the defendant to have engaged in extreme conduct that's intended to cause severe emotional distress to the victim.

Proving severe emotional distress is difficult and generally requires persistent emotional disturbance or physical symptoms.

Unfortunately that means plaintiffs don't often win claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress. But it's still worth talking to an attorney about your options.

Even if you don't bring a legal claim, it's important to let companies know when there's an issue, especially if you've been insulted. If they're unwilling to treat you with respect, then they don't deserve your business.

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