There’s a saying – 1 bad customer is worse than 1, 000 good customers. Every day, in small businesses across the country, business owners deal with customers that are unreasonable, difficult, or have overly unrealistic expectations.
Sometimes, businesses feel like they’re doubling over backward trying to make a customer happy. Some businesses give up, and wonder can a business ban a customer?
If you are a business owner and are thinking about banning a customer and want to understand the legal issues, read on for some tips.
Is it Legal to Ban a Customer?
A business that is a private business (meaning, unconnected to the government) absolutely has a right to refuse service, and choose who it wants to serve or not. This can include selling products, services, asking customers to leave the store’s premises, refusing to allow customers to enter, and taking other steps.
Part of your rights as a business owner includes the right to choose who can and cannot come to your business, whether it is a restaurant, store or office. However, the balance between the business owners’ rights and the consumer’s rights can be delicate.
The Business’s Right to Refuse Service
A business can refuse to serve a customer, or ban service being provided to a particular customer, as long as the customer does not feel as though they are being refused service on the basis of an unlawful reason, such as their race, national origin, gender, religious background, sexual orientation, or other unlawful characteristic. As the business owner,you have the right to ask customers to leave, and you have the right to refuse service.
The danger, however, is in a customer feeling as though your actions are being taken because of their race, national origin, gender, religious background, sexual orientation, or other characteristic that his protected under state law, including in California.
Civil Rights under Federal law and California law
Federal law protects customers from being banned from a business under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and also pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Civil Rights Act provides protection that all customers are able to enjoy the “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”
Similarly, the Americans with Disabilities Act protects customers against discrimination based on their disability such as refusing to allow a customer with their service animal.
In California, the Unruh Act similarly provides protection for individuals of diverse backgrounds, skin color, sexual orientation, religion, and other natural characteristics from being discriminated against. Essentially, this means that you can refuse service or ban a customer, but not for an unlawful reason, such as, because you do not want certain types of people in your store based on their skin color, race, religion, sexual orientation, or other basis. This includes refusing service because you do not like the person’s lifestyle, including people of diverse sexual orientation or LGBTQ status.
You may have read recent stories in the news about cake decorators and wedding caterers refusing service to gay couples – this type of refusal to serve is generally unlawful because it is based on an underlying unlawful reason (i.e., sexual orientation).
Valid Reasons under the Law to Ban a Customer or Refuse Service
A business can legally ban a customer not only based on its discretion, but also for health, safety, or other similar reasons, such as the customer being unruly, disrupting the business or its operations, causing injury, stress, or upset to employees, contractors, or other customers. These are all legitimate reasons that a customer could be banned, so long as there is no federal or local civil rights being violated in the process.
Overall, a business can ban a customer from their business based on their own rules, and reasons. The caveat is that business must be careful to avoid at all possible costs violating federal and state laws protecting the consumers’ civil rights.
Getting Legal help
If you are a business owner and are considering banning a customer, and are not sure how to best handle the situation, give us a call. We offer free consultations to callers and in as little as 10 or 15 minutes, you could have some guidance from an experienced attorney and obtain some peace of mind.
► MOBILE? Click HERE to Initiate Call Now
► ONLINE? Click HERE to Request Online
Top Busines FAQs
- California Paid Time Off (PTO) Policy Sample Template
- California New Parent Leave Act 2018 Sample Policy Template, Rules, Overview and FAQs
- California 2018 Employee Handbook
- California Interview Questions – What Not to Ask
- Paid Sick Leave Los Angeles California 2018 | Rules, Overview and FAQs
- What the New Tax Bill Means for Small Businesses, Startups, LLCs, S Corps, and Sole Proprietors
- New California Employment Laws 2018
- California Liquor License Rules: Special Events, 1-Day Events, and Private Parties
- Multi-State Businesses: Which State’s Wage and Hour Laws Must be Followed?
- Could Your LLC Save on Taxes by Converting to an S Corp?
Latest Business Representations
- Technology Infrastructure Company Axis Legal Counsel for Business Operations Matter
- Los Angeles Technology Infrastructure Services Provider retains Axis Legal Counsel for Employment and Labor Guidance
- Technology Solutions Company Hires Axis Legal Counsel to Pursue Business Litigation Dispute
- Digital Media Services Startup Hires Axis Legal Counsel
- Technology Marketing Company Retains Axis Legal Counsel for Client Services Contract Transactions
- Axis Legal Counsel Hired in Accountant Malpractice Litigation
- Axis Hired by LA’s Leading Immersive Experience Entertainment Company
- Axis Legal Counsel Hired by Limited Partner against Wrongful Conduct of General Partner in Limited Partnership (LP) Dispute
- Los Angeles Internet Marketing Business Hires Axis Legal Counsel for Business Dispute Involving Services Contract
- Los Angeles Tattoo Shop Hires Axis Legal Counsel in Shareholder Dispute
Startups | Business Disputes | Litigation | Charities | Non-Profits | Contracts and Transactions | Technology and Internet | Insurance Recovery | Intellectual Property | Privacy | Crisis Management | Los Angeles Business Lawyer | Los Angeles Startup Lawyer | Los Angeles Articles of Incorporation Lawyer | Los Angeles Business Contract Lawyer | Los Angeles Corporate Formation Lawyer | Los Angeles Contract Lawyer | Los Angeles Business Litigation Attorney | Los Angeles Small Business Lawyer | Los Angeles Corporate Lawyer | Los Angeles LLP Lawyer | Los Angeles LLC Lawyer | Los Angeles Partnership Lawyer | Los Angeles Non-Solicit Lawyer
Los Angeles Non-Compete Lawyer | Los Angeles Dog Cafe Lawyer | California Dog Cafe Attorney | Venture Capital Finance | Executive Compensation Agreement Attorney Los Angeles