A judge in Manhattan ruled Wednesday that bar owners are legally allowed to kick people out for supporting President Donald Trump because anti-discrimination laws don’t cover political affiliation.
The New York Post reported that 31-year-old Greg Piatek, an accountant from Philadelphia, was kicked out of a West Village bar for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat shortly after Trump’s inauguration in 2017. After being told that “anyone who supports Trump — or believes in what you believe — is not welcome here” by staff at The Happiest Hour bar, Piatek sued the establishment and said the incident “offended his sense of being American.”
In court on Wednesday, The Happiest Hour’s lawyer Elizabeth Conway argued that state and city non-discrimination laws only bar business owners from refusing service based on religion — not political affiliation.
“Supporting Trump is not a religion,” the attorney argued. Piatek’s lawyer Paul Liggieri, the Post reported, shot back with a unique counter-argument.
“The purpose of the hat is that he wore it because he was visiting the 9/11 Memorial,” Liggieri told Justice David Cohen, the judge presiding over the case. “He was paying spiritual tribute to the victims of 9/11. The Make American Great Again hat was part of his spiritual belief.”
When Justice Cohen pressed Liggieri on how the bar’s staff was supposed to know Piatek was wearing the hat based on religious rather than political beliefs, the attorney responded that they were only aware of the hat’s existence. When asked about how many people ascribe to said spiritual belief, the lawyer acknowledged that Piatek’s is “a creed of one.”
Cohen, when tossing out the case, said Piatek’s unspecified emotional damages were “petty” in nature, and that he did not adequately “state any faith-based principle to which the hat relates,” the Post reported.