Seattle Restaurant Bans TSA Agents

A restaurant near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington State has refused to serve Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees, posting a prominent sign by the door stating they are not welcome. Is this is a good thing?

The story came from Christopher Elliott and he did not bother to provide the name and address of the restaurant, but that is not important for the matter at hand.

First, the action of the restaurant owner is legal. Discrimination against non-protected classes in the United States does not run afoul of the law. Protected classes include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Age (40 and over)
  • Sex
  • Familial status
  • Sexual orientation (in some jurisdictions)
  • Gender identity (in some jurisdictions)
  • Disability
  • Veteran

You won't find the TSA on that list. Refusing to serve TSA employees can be tricky, though. What if a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) in uniform who is black enters the restaurant. Will the owner throw him out? What about a TSO in uniform who is obviously older than 40 years of age. Will the owner throw him out? A female TSO out of costume orders her meal. During the service, the waiter notices the officer's badge that clearly identifies the officer as a TSA employee. Will the owner discontinue service? Will the owner admonish the female TSO that next time she won't be served?

I would hope the answer to all those questions would be yes, but if I was running a restaurant I would certainly be uncomfortable turning away a paying customer, especially one who could come back and claim I discriminated on the basis of their age, gender, or race.

Nevertheless, I think the restaurant owner in Seattle is doing the right thing. As long as it made clear that TSOs are refused service because of the organization they represent, I would hope that any lawsuit claiming unlawful discrimination would fail.

Although I do not hold TSA agents in high regard (because they have chosen to aid and abet in eroding civil liberties in the United States), I do not dislike any TSA agents personally. More so than anything, I pity that they must come to work and play a game of charades each day. But I associate the TSA with corruption, incompetence, and un-Americanism. Looking at it through that perspective, I cannot blame the restaurant owner for choosing the course of action he has embarked upon.

As one of his waiters told Chris Elliott:

We even have the police on our side and they have helped us escort TSA agents out of our cafe. Until TSA agents start treating us with the respect and dignity that we deserve, then things will change for them in the private sector.

That's the other problem. The TSA makes matters worse every day when their front-line employees are rude and snippy with passengers. The security theater is bad enough, but when you are insulted before you are strip-searched, the animosity compounds.

I hope to report back in a few months that a grass roots movement banning service to TSA employees has sprung up around the country. Maybe then the politicians will start listening to the traveling public.


FriendlySkies February 21, 2011 at 03:15 pm

Good for them ^

I hope more restaurants follow suit!

Cowboy February 21, 2011 at 06:29 pm

Is this is a good thing?

No, it is a great thing!

jon February 21, 2011 at 06:34 pm

Is this not the greatest? just write anything, no name, no address, of the establishment, and it is printed and many will take it for granted that it is totally true.I feel that there should be a higher standard than to print anything, possibly about anyone, with no verification. Come on lets stop this Crap.

@jon: Christopher Elliott is a well-respected travel writer who writes a nationally syndicated column. He doesn't publish crap. Nor do I.

Eager Traveler February 21, 2011 at 06:53 pm

rock on! Wish I knew the restaurant...I would make a b-line.

Jimmy Crackedcorn February 21, 2011 at 06:54 pm

How is discrimination good in any form exactly?? And why exactly are you singling out the TSA agents, these are normal people who choose to find a job and work for a living. What you do not like is the Government program itself, which really should be an eye opener for anyone in favor of Government Healthcare.

brian February 21, 2011 at 06:56 pm

I agree. When they treat the traveling public with the respect we deserve, then.... geez.. we pay their saleries,,, indirectly, but,in truth, yes, then they are fair game.

@Jimmy Crackedcorn: Sorry for invoking Godwin's Law, but the Nazis were also "normal people who choose to find a job and work for a living." You're right: it is the government program that I truly don't like, but every agent that dons the TSA costume aids and abets the agency's unconstitutional power grab. And they all volunteered for their jobs.

More people should follow the example! If the TSA can violate our 4th Amendment protecting us from unreasonable search and seizure, we should be able to do this. Also, if these TSA "government groping goons" get unionized, everyone should be able to ridicule these people because it means the worst of the gropers will have protection at their job.

george allen February 21, 2011 at 07:04 pm

The enemy of my enemy is a friend of mine. As was clearly explained this was not a slur or bias against any individual, but against an unnecessary burden placed on all air travelers. We all desire safe travel these days for ourselves, our family, our friends and all who travel. But the current program was a hip shoot, not carefully thought out, not carefully planned,and with political implications. My brother is 94 years old, uses a walker, and had go got through a miserable screening process in one of our major terminals. Come on**

What restaurant is this. This restaurant will not be in business for long because. I understand that TSA agents are registered sex offenders. These guys need to eat to. Alert TSA Agent do not patronize Sea-Tac restaurants with a TSA uniforms.

mike February 21, 2011 at 07:38 pm

I hope this catches on...

FriendlySkies February 21, 2011 at 07:45 pm

@Mark, what? Why won't they be in business for very long? Because they won't have obese, sex offender, TSA clerks patronizing them?

Jimmy James February 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm


Arjun February 22, 2011 at 12:51 am

so since many of us are anti-war, should we refuse to serve soldiers too?

i hate the tsa and our modern security culture/fear state as much as anyone else, but publicly discriminating against and humiliating powerless employees is stupid. do you think the government gives a fuck about the people they pay $12/hr to hand-rape you? that if their employees complain that they're reviled, the government will loosen security standards, thereby opening themselves to the criticism they failed to prevent 9/11 round 2?

KM February 22, 2011 at 01:09 am

This is what all Americans need to do. I congratulate the business owner on his decision and courage to stand up against the un-American enemies be them foreign or domestic. If I knew the restaurant, I'd send the owner a thank you.

Rob February 22, 2011 at 01:11 am

Um, a private business can discriminate against anyone for any reason. Those "protected classes" are only "protected" in public places. I agree with @Jon: This is poor journalism. Hopefully paper wasn't wasted in publishing it.

@Rob: You have absolutely no clue what you are talking about in regards to the law. A private business cannot discriminate for any reason if it opens up it doors to the public. Check out the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Hosing Act (1968).

And you've stumbled on something called a blog, short for web log, which is much different than formal journalism.


reallyseattle February 22, 2011 at 02:30 am

This is not only stupid but indicative of the level of mental retardation that Seattlelites suffer from.

I hope this persons business goes broke. Punish the employees who bring you revenue? Poor business practices. Can't wait to see what opens there instead

@reallyseattle: Or it may cause people to go out of there way to eat at that business establishment because of the position the owner has taken.

MMC February 22, 2011 at 05:52 am

If for some reason this action turns out to be held illegal by the Powers That Seem to Be, how about a mass movement for posting signs TSA EMPLOYEES NOT WELCOME HERE.

Ash February 22, 2011 at 06:13 am

I see so much horror stroies about the TSA on the internet it made me decide against ever travelling to America.

@Ash: I can't blame you, but at the same time I must say that you are really missing out. America has quite a lot to offer--and at very reasonable prices as well.

allan wright February 22, 2011 at 09:09 am

Lets ban them from hospitals next

Joel February 22, 2011 at 10:04 am

This kind of behavior is childish and will only tend to harden affected TSA employees. Not what I'd call a thoughtful strategy.

@Joel: Perhaps, but I tend to think not. On the contrary, I think being treated like a second-class citizen may cause some to question why they are part of an organization that treats all passengers as second-class citizens. That would be good for America.

Voyeur February 22, 2011 at 11:24 am

The ability to eat in a TSA free zone would probably be good for weary travelers. Id I'm ever in that airport again, not likely given the TSA exists, that would be the place I chose to eat even if they had bed food, but I understand the they have good food and low stress environment good for digestion.

Here is hoping all the sane and intelligent people quit working for the TSA so it can be dropped with real security, the fellow passengers. After all, it was the government who said of your plane high jacked just sit back and enjoy the ride, and that worked out well.

Aryeh February 22, 2011 at 02:01 pm

I have a hard time cheering this man on. Why is he singling out these people who work a low wage job that they must keep in order for them to support themselves or their families? Yes, they are working on the corrupt side, but it's not like they can afford to quit their job on principle.

This is ridiculous. He should refuse to serve government employees involved with forming legislature. That is where the real problem is. He is being childish, unrealistic and reactionary.

@Aryeh: You make the strongest argument against the shopowners action. Ultimately, I disagree, but your point about TSA agents not being able to find work elsewhere is sadly true.

Wolf February 22, 2011 at 04:57 pm

TSA - Taken Sa Auto! Better.....take the train... now if everyone would just boycot flights then they would feel the pinch, let airlines know that you aren't willing to put up with this abuse against civil rights.

jim fixit February 23, 2011 at 05:01 pm

the name of the restaurant should be revealed. I would write them a check on the spot in support of their efforts to return our nation to some sense of respect for our constitutional rights.

Matt February 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Apparently Chris Elliott does publish crap sometimes...


Wow. You are correct. Thanks for the update.

Folks--if you didn't click through, the whole story appeaes to be a hoax. No one can find the restaurant in question and the Seattle media has been digging around all week...

SteveDenver February 25, 2011 at 04:03 pm

If they refuse to serve TSA agents, but still serve IRS auditors and parking enforcement officers, f-em... they're useless.

stars March 3, 2011 at 05:10 pm

if they refuse to serve TSA agents food but not minorities they are retarded.

lonnie March 4, 2011 at 09:35 pm

I do not think that most TSA agents are happy about the work they are expected to do. Sure some of them may be pricks but I would guess that most would prefer things the way they used to be. I don't see how refusing them service is fair or legal. On the other hand I have a personal rule that I try to live by. Don't Piss off people who are fixing your food. I would eat elsewhere.

oldwolves March 6, 2011 at 05:27 pm

Some poor slob, who's doing the job that the Government tells him to do, will get screwed over. Nice. If the owner had any balls, how about refusing to pay his taxes until Obama changes HIS policies? Of course not. Better to pick on some helpless victim, like a coward, then to put his own neck on the line. Hey , how about not treating doctors until obamacare kicks in? Or gas station workers until cap and trade is passed?

I think that this is not only just, but right. How would said schleb agree to a an intrusive patdown of their "regions" so they might eat a steak or burger? How do we know that they are not terrorists with a "mission"? Regardless of whether this is real or not, it adds an interesting dimension to this horrid argument.

I am a retired law officer and I fly frequently. I do not think the TSA agents are out of line. They were just doing their jobs. Granted that they are not sworn officers, but I haven't seen any inapproparite patting down by the opposite sex yet.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.