Reserve the right to refuse anyone who…

You’ve undoubtedly seen signs on establishments that read:

We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” And the second most common, “No shirt, no shoes, no service.”

Can a place of business really refuse anyone who…?

According to Ms. Jane Haskins, Esq. who writes for Legal Zoom:

“…The answer is that you can refuse to serve someone even if they’re in a protected group, but the refusal can’t be arbitrary and you can’t apply it to just one group of people.

To avoid being arbitrary, there must be a reason for refusing service and you must be consistent. There could be a dress code to maintain a sense of decorum, or fire code restrictions on how many people can be in your place of business at one time, or a policy related to the health and safety of your customers and employees. Because of all this, they need to make sure they are keeping to COSHH regulations at all times, businesses can check out the COSHH assessment guide over at if they are unsure. But you can’t just randomly refuse service to someone because you don’t like the way they look or dress.

Second, you must apply your policy to everyone. For example, you can’t turn away a black person who’s not wearing a tie and then let in a tieless white man. You also can’t have a policy that sounds like it applies to everyone but really just excludes one particular group of people…”

So, when Cafe 8 1/2 in Honolulu, Hawaii, posted a sign that read:

“If you voted for Trump you cannot eat here! No Nazis.” Was it within their right?

Should a business be able to refuse service to anyone?

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • If I were to be refused, (which I did experience several times in my life), I would leave, never to return.
  • I may not like it (or you), but I do understand that there are people who do not like (insert group(s)). I believe that it is your right. I also believe that it is a bad business decision, but hey, it’s your loss.
  • I do not believe that I, or anyone (including the government) should force you, the business owner, to conduct business with me. (Sheesh! Why would I want to do business with you when I’m fully aware of what you think of me! Again, your loss, buddy!)
  • I have choices; many, many choices to conduct business with someone who wants my business, who will treat me with respect and dignity.
  • I do not want to ruin someone’s business; it’ll probably happen naturally. (When I have so many choices, why would I choose to waste my time with you!“)
  • Even if you are forced to conduct business with me, it will not change your mind or your heart. It could even create more disdain and serve to reinforce your opinion of (insert group). I do not want that for you, Mr./Ms. Business Owner.
  • I will respect you and you can kindly decline my business for whatever “polite excuse” you’d like to give me. We will both look each other in the eye and know, but we can choose to do so peacefully and respectfully. And I, will walk out with dignity intact.

Forcing a person to think or accept something they don’t believe in has never worked. Oh, it may seem so on the surface, but only due to fear of repercussion. And, whether you agree with it or not, some of these opinions or deportment are guided by cultural or religious beliefs, and sadly, sometimes it’s just plain ‘ol hatred for no darn reason.

No matter what or where a person’s point of view is, here are:

7 ways we can lessen negative opinions when attempting to conduct business:

  1. smile more often
  2. respect others, especially when we disagree
  3. be courteous and considerate of others
  4. keep our mouth shut more often
  5. stop thinking that our way is the only way
  6. listen more, without always throwing in our two-cents
  7. even when we disagree, acknowledge their opinion

So, next time you see a sign that does not welcome “you,” go somewhere else. Make your point by not spending your money there.

rosalinda randall, keynote speaker etiquetteI’m Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, Social Skills and Civility Speaker/Presenter, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”

I offer presentations to support HR policies, sales team, managers, as part of the new-hire orientation process, in-home technicians, professional development events, conferences, college/university students, interns. For more information, please contact me.


photo source: