The man who sued a New York bar for denying him service because of his “Make America Great Again” hat now claims it was religious discrimination, saying he was “adhering to his closely held spiritual beliefs.”
Greg Piatek, a Philadelphia accountant, sued The Happiest Hour in March over what he called “egregious, unlawful and discriminatory conduct.” He must have realized he had no case because, in what appears to be a desperate move, he is now saying the hat was part of his sincere religious tradition, according to Gothamist’s recent report.
Citing an “expansive definition of creed,” an attorney for plaintiff Greg Piatek filed court papers last week claiming he was “adhering to his closely held spiritual beliefs by adorning the hat in question.” Those spiritual beliefs “entirely transcend the political realm,” the suit claims, and are supposedly loosely related to the 30-year-old tourist’s sympathy for the victims of 9/11.
It never fails: when in doubt, people continue to play the 9/11 card. This wasn’t related to that terrorist attacks or its victims. This poorly made trucker hat is a symbol of two things: Donald Trump’s campaign and a lack of fashion sense.
So, to support one faulty example of “religious freedom,” he cites another — namely the exemption of vaccine laws for faith-based reasons. The main difference, however, is that this isn’t a sincerely held religious belief. This is a cheap political prop (that was probably made in China).
That sympathy, and his choice to express it through the president’s preferred hat, qualifies Piatek as “a member of a protected class…[who] was discriminated against on account of his membership in that class.” The suit references the court’s previous recognition of non-traditional creeds, like the refusal of anti-vaccination parents to inoculate their children, as precedence for Piatek’s claim.
“A religious belief can appear to every other member of the human race preposterous,” the memo acknowledges, “yet still be entitled to protection.”
All of that is true, and most religious beliefs seem nonsensical to me and many other non-believers, but they are religious beliefs. It may seem like Trumpism has become its own faith, with believers worshiping him and refusing to acknowledge any faults in his approach and obeying the One Commandment that says “Thou Shalt Lie,” but it isn’t a religion under the law.
This might seem like a conservative political twist on asking a Christian baker to make a cake for a gay wedding, but the attorney for the bar, Preston Ricardo, says the whole thing is made up. He also proved in court that Piatek left a $36 tip on his $182 tab, which would seemingly conflict with his claim that he was humiliated and experienced the “Saddest Hour” of his life.
“The plaintiff’s vague and conclusory arguments are entirely fanciful,” Ricardo told Gothamist. “They have no support in the law. And they continue to show that the action is nothing more than an ill-conceived publicity stunt guised as a lawsuit.”
So, not only does Piatek have no case, it actually appears that he fabricated the entire thing. It’s the legal equivalent of fake news.
(Image via Shutterstock)