Lions hall of famer Lem Barney sues Happy's Pizza for discrimination

- Former Detroit Lion and NFL hall of famer Lem Barney say he was racially discriminated against at a Happy's Pizza in Commerce Township.

But Happy's denies any wrong doing. Barney's attorney filed a lawsuit in federal court on Monday alleging Barney and his wife tried to order food at the North Pontiac Trail location when they say they were refused service and told to go to the Southfield location.

"Mrs. Barney was in disbelief and said 'What are you talking about, we live here in Commerce,'" said James Acho, Barney's attorney. "He said 'We're not serving; go to Southfield you'll be more at home there.'

"We know that Southfield is predominately black, I think there was a not so subtle message in there."

But Happy's Pizza tells a very different story. The company says the newly remodeled Commerce Township location wasn't even open for businesses yet and that employees were referring customers to other locations specifically Farmington Hills and Pontiac, the two closet locations geographically.

In a statement, the company responded "Happy's Pizza does not discriminate or refuse service to patrons under any circumstances on the basis of race, gender or religion. The franchise started on a busy corner on Detroit's northeast side and today is a leader in charitable giving in all of its communities and has supported the foundations and causes of numerous organizations and professional athletes in Detroit."

Barney played for the Detroit Lions from 1967 to 1977. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1992.

The Barneys' attorney says this is what they're hoping for - "a strong message sent by a judge or jury," Acho said. "What that is, remains to be seen."

Meanwhile Happy's Pizza says "We are deeply saddened by Mr. and Mrs. Barney's accusations of racial discrimination. We take these accusations very seriously and will do everything in our power to clear-up the confusion surrounding them."

The full statement from Happy's Pizza:

"Happy's Pizza, located at 2163 N. Pontiac Trail, Commerce, MI 48390, officially
opened for business on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. On Friday November 2,
2018, the Happy's Pizza store on N. Pontiac Trail was not open, but the doors
were, as employees and contractors were in and out of the building, doing food
and equipment testing and preparing the store for the opening the following
week.

"Roughly 30 patrons came in the store on Friday November 2, wanting to order
food. Happy's Pizza employees explained to visitors the store was not yet open
to the public and referred visitors to the two geographically closest Happy's
Pizza locations (27845 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills, MI 48334 and 312 S.
Telegraph Rd., Pontiac, MI 48341).

"Happy's Pizza does not discriminate against or refuse service to patrons under
any circumstances on the basis of race, gender, or religion. The franchise
started on a busy corner on Detroit's Northeast side, and today is a leader in
charitable giving in all of its communities and has supported the foundations
and causes of numerous organizations and professional athletes in Detroit.

"The Happy's Pizza location Mr. Barney and his wife visited was not yet open to
the public for business on November 2. A screen shot from the point of sale
system attached clearly shows the "EOD Day 1" date as November 6, 2018, the
date the Happy's Pizza store in question opened for business.

"We are deeply saddened by Mr. and Mrs. Barney's accusations of racial
discrimination. We take these accusations very seriously and will do everything
in our power to clear-up the confusion surrounding them."

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