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Can Restaurants Legally Ban Kids?

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By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on January 24, 2019 10:49 AM

According to various restaurant publications and websites, there is currently a trend in the industry to ban kids under a certain age from some restaurants. Of course, there are pros and cons to this from a business perspective, which we will leave up to you and your business savvy. But what about legal issues? Can you legally ban children from a restaurant?

Subjective Rules Can Get Complicated, and Potentially Challenged

But what about "No Loud Children"? The term "loud" is rather subjective, so already you are on a slippery slope. Layer on a further potential complication, such as the "loud child" in the restaurant is the only one that is not Caucasian or perhaps dressed in a way that shows the family practices a certain religion. You may want to brace yourself for a federal civil rights lawsuit for discriminating against someone on the basis of a protected class such as:

  • Age (generally over the age of 40)
  • Race
  • National origin
  • Religious beliefs
  • Gender
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Veteran status

Restaurants Are Not the First to Ban Children, Probably Not the Last

If you feel like a renegade wanting to enlist this sort of rule, know that you aren't alone. Not only are other restaurants feeling the need to do so, but also malls. A few large malls throughout the country have instituted a policy that bans unaccompanied minors the day after Christmas. This need came about not only from shoplifting, but also for public safety, as fights had been known to break out in years past. Though some groups claim the policies violate their civil rights, none have brought a successful suit. Also, keep in mind that there are many hotels and resorts that prohibit minors from staying at their establishment.

If you have any concerns about policies at your restaurant, or ones you are thinking of making, contact a business and commercial lawyer. These attorneys are well versed in what policies are legal, and which ones will get you into hot water. Let's save the hot water for the dishwasher.

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