Two more gas stations added to discrimination lawsuit involving bathrooms

Updated: Jul. 13, 2017 at 4:45 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - First there were five, now a total of seven Midlands gas stations are being named in a lawsuit claiming a man was not allowed to use the public restroom because he is black.

We first brought you this story back in June. The man behind the claims, Daniel Woodard, is described as a disabled African-American in the lawsuit documents.

Woodard claims that in November of last year, he visited each of the then five gas stations as a paying customer, but was told he could not use their restroom facilities.

A manager of one the original five gas stations listed denied the claims when we first brought you this story back in June

"We treat our customers the same no matter what color they are, no matter what race they are," El Cheapo gas station owner Hector Tapia said.

We spoke to a local civil rights attorney to get his take on the case. He says gas stations are private companies and therefore do not have to provide public restrooms, though they may restrict them to paying customers.

"McDonald's does not have to open its bathroom to everybody who walks by," attorney Chris Mills said. "Now, generally, I don't think they have a guard out there deciding who's buying a hamburger and who's not, but the idea is it's for their customers. A business has a right to restrict those things, but within that group of customers they can't discriminate."

In the case of discrimination, Mills says you still need proof

"Generally, they have to establish a case that that happens," Mills said. "He has to prove they're letting other people in and they're not letting other blacks in."

Again, Woodard claims that he was a paying customer at these stations.

The lawsuit also claims that their own private investigation revealed that only white customers were permitted to use the bathrooms.

We did reach out to the lawyers representing Woodard but they declined to be interviewed.

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