Civil rights complaint filed against Estes Park restaurant, restaurant denies allegations

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Posted at 10:39 PM, Aug 04, 2021

ESTES PARK, Colo. — A Denver-based man has filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division alleging that he dealt with racism at an Estes Park restaurant.

"We're not obligated to sit here and take this kind of treatment and walk away from racist abuse with our heads down, with our tails between our legs," Shawn Bauck said about the experience.

On Wednesday, Bauck's attorney, Jason Flores-Williams, sent a letter on behalf of his client to the division doubling down on his client's allegations.

The letter said, in part: "There is no context where a Black person goes to a restaurant, the server uses the N-word, and the use of this racial epithet is somehow justified. There is no context where a Black person goes to a restaurant, the server says that Black people are thugs and gangsters, but that this is somehow justified. There is no context in which a Black person lodges a complaint of racial discrimination with a business owner in Colorado — the owner chooses to do nothing — that does not implicate the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act ('CADA') and civil rights laws that have been enacted to remedy a long history of invidious discrimination of people of color in restaurants and public accommodations in the United States."

Bauck's initial complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division was filed in March. Bauck said when he dined at Cousin Pat's Pub and Grill in Estes Park, a conversation with his server eventually led to the N-word being used by the waitress, among other racist phrases.

"She thought this is acceptable to try to justify and say how this [N-word] is supposed to make sense because you're around Black people. And we are supposed to be gangsters, thugs and wife beaters," Bauck said.

Bauck added that when he tried to approach the owner about the ordeal, he was ignored.

"He just sat there and sat back in the chair, swiveled around and slowly got this smirk on his face and looked me dead in the eye and told me, 'Well, I have to know the context of that,'" Bauck said.

Cousin Pat's Pub and Grill responded to the original complaint through their attorney saying the entirety of the complaint was based on unreasonable assumptions. The owner also said when he confronted the server, "she stated what she said was not used in any derogatory manner, that they were just having a conversation."

"We put a reply in front of the Colorado Civil Rights Division saying that the restaurant's inaction and their response to a person of color saying that they had been invidiously discriminated against in this restaurant was illegal and violates civil rights provisions of Colorado state law and federal law," Flores-Williams said.

On Wednesday, the restaurant's attorney provided this statement to Denver7:

Cousin Pat’s Pub and Grill is a small family establishment in Estes Park, Colorado.

Mr. Bauck and his attorney have mischaracterized the conversation between Mr. Bauck and a server. The owner of Cousin Pat’s did not hear or participate in the conversation. The server who spoke with Mr. Bauck is no longer employed by Cousin Pat’s. The server insisted that the conversation did not evolve into an attack or discrimination against Mr. Bauck.

Cousin Pat’s treats all customers equally.

Cousin Pat’s looks forward to cooperating with the investigation of the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

"The relief that he [Bauck] is really seeking is to put an end to people of color and Black people being disregarded and having to leave restaurants with their head down because their complaints were not taken seriously," Flores-Williams said.

The Colorado Civil Rights Division is expected to make a ruling within the coming weeks.