Manhattan judge David Cohen tossed out Piatek's discrimination case Wednesday as the law does not protect citizens against political discrimination. Piatek, a Philadelphia-based accountant, was visiting the 9/11 Memorial in downtown Manhattan before he and his friends had a bad time at the "Happiest Hour" bar on West 10th Street. Piatek was wearing a red "Make America Great Again" hat.
Piatek was served a $15 jalapeño margarita while his friends drank beers. When Piatek tried to order another, a bartender, different from the one prior, passed over them.
When the bargoers complained about rude service, the bartender allegedly told them "Anyone who supports Trump — or believes in what you believe — is not welcome here! And you need to leave right now because we won't serve you," according to Piatek. They were then escorted out of the bar. Piatek said the experience "offended his sense of being American," and sued.
The trial turned wacky at the Manhattan Supreme Court after the bar's lawyer, Elizabeth Conway, pointed out that discrimination laws don't protect people on the basis of political beliefs. "Supporting Trump is not a religion," she said.
Piatek's attorney, Paul Liggieri, made the unusual argument that, in fact, it was. "He was paying spiritual tribute to the victims of 9/11. The Make America Great Again hat was part of his spiritual belief," Liggieri said. "Rather than remove his hat, instead he held true to his spiritual belief and was forced from the bar."
Justice Cohen asked Liggieri how the bartenders could have known of Piatek's atypical religious beliefs. "They were aware he was wearing that hat," Liggieri said.
The judge also asked how many members were in "this spiritual program that your client is engaged in." When Liggieri could not answer, the judge asked "so, it's a creed of one?"
"Yes, your honor," Liggieri replied.
The debate over whether supporters of US President Donald Trump constituted a protected spiritual class lasted a very long but amusing hour before Cohen tossed out the case, saying "Plaintiff does not state any faith-based principle to which the hat relates." He also said that the bar's actions were not "outrageous conduct."
Piatek and his lawyer plan to review the case and decide on whether to appeal the ruling or not.