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ACLU Targets Religious Discounts as Religious
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday September 5, 2001
SALT LAKE CITY-- The ACLU of Utah announced today that it has sent letters to both the Utah
State Attorney General’s Office and the Utah Restaurants Association advising that the practice of
offering “LDS” or “missionary” discounts at local eateries and retail businesses violates Utah’s non
The ACLU became aware of the practice when Judy Bruyette of Orem wrote saying she was denied
a 15% off “missionary” discount at Rodizio Grill in Orem. A priest and deacon of her church
accompanied her to the restaurant. They were told that only LDS missionaries and their families
were offered this discount because they were the majority religion in Utah.
“This is just like offering a 15% discount for whites in the South, just because they are the majority
does not mean that a business can discriminate against the minority community,” Bruyette wrote.
Other local restaurants such as Sizzler and Frontier Pies have offered similar “missionary” or “LDS”
discounts in Utah County.
The Utah Public Accommodations Law, Utah Code Ann. § 13-7-3, provides
that all persons in this state “are entitled to full and equal accommodations,
advantages, facilities, privileges, goods and services in all business
establishments . . . without discrimination on the basis of race, color,
sex, religion, ancestry, or national origin.”
“Conferring a discount on the basis of religion is clearly illegal discrimination under this law,” said
ACLU staff attorney Janelle Eurick. “The practice ostracizes the religious minority in Utah and
perpetuates feelings that non-Mormons are not as welcome in our communities or business
Under Utah’s Public Accommodations Law, the Attorney General is responsible
for investigating claims of discrimination based on religion in local
business establishments. The ACLU has reason to believe this practice
is widespread and that several retail establishments offer similar discounts.
“We are contacting the Attorney General’s office to investigate this matter. We hope business
establishments will end this hurtful practice in the face of an investigation and before the need
arises for civil rights damages actions,” added Eurick.
August 31, 2001
Utah Attorney General
236 State Capitol
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114
Re: Complaints Alleging Religious Discrimination
Dear Attorney General Shurtleff:
We are writing to apprise you of several complaints we have received regarding what appears to be
a common practice that we consider religious discrimination in violation of Utah’s
non-discrimination law. As discussed in the attached letter, certain restaurants prominently
advertise and offer a “missionary” or “LDS” discount on certain days or for a certain percentage off a
customer’s bill. Customers who are not LDS are not given the same discount. We believe this is
an “advantage” given to some customers based upon their religion in violation of Utah Code Ann.
The ACLU of Utah formally requests that your office investigate this practice under the authority
granted in Utah Code Ann. §13-7-4. We have reason to believe this practice is widespread, not
only by Utah restaurants but also by retail establishments. The practice is hurtful to those who are
not members of the majority faith in Utah and only compounds the unfortunate impression that
non-adherents are disfavored and disadvantaged. We hope that by involving your office the practice
can be ended without resort to unnecessary litigation.
Please feel free to contact our office if you have any questions or comments about this matter.
Very Truly Yours,
Stephen C. Clark
August 31, 2001
Mr. Tom Ginney
Utah Restaurant Association
420 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
Re: Complaints Alleging Religious Discrimination
Dear Mr. Ginney:
We are writing to apprise you that we have received complaints about a practice that we consider
to be religious discrimination in violation of Utah’s non-discrimination law by restaurants that may
be members of your association. We are hoping you will be able to advise your members that they
should stop this illegal conduct to avoid liability.
According to the complaints, certain restaurants offer a “missionary” or “LDS” discount on certain
days or for a certain percentage off a customer’s bill. One woman told us that she and two
members of her clergy were denied a 15% off “missionary discount” at Rodizio Grill in Orem
because they were not members of the LDS faith. She contacted Rodizio Grill’s corporate
headquarters in Denver. They agreed the practice is discriminatory and told her they would
discontinue the discount. We have information that other restaurants, such as Sizzler, Frontier
Pies, engage in this discriminatory practice, particularly in Utah County.
Utah Code Ann. § 13-7-3 provides in pertinent part:
All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal and are
entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities,
privileges, goods and services in all business establishments . . . without
discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, ancestry, or
This statute guarantees to individuals who fall within these classifications full and equal access to
the goods, services, advantages and facilities offered by business establishments such as
restaurants. The law permits a person whose rights have been denied to make application to the
Attorney General, who then must "investigate and seek to conciliate" the complaint. Id. §
13-7-4(1). It also allows such a person to commence a civil action for damages. Id. §13-7-4(3).
The statute is applied as “broadly as possible to combat invidious discrimination in Utah.” Beynon
v. St. George-Dixie Lodge #1743, 854 P.2d 513 (Utah 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 869 (1993).
Therefore, offering a price “advantage” on the basis of the customer’s religion clearly falls within this
law’s prohibitions and is against the public policy of this state.
We know you would not tolerate illegal discrimination in your restaurants or condone it in those that
belong to your association. We hope that you will notify your membership that the practice of
offering missionary or LDS discounts discriminates against patrons on the basis of their religion
and leaves the proprietors open to civil rights lawsuits for damages and investigation by the Utah
Attorney General’s office. The ACLU of Utah will also be contacting the Attorney General’s office
and publicizing this matter in an effort to raise public awareness about this illegal practice and to
stop this unfair discrimination against those who are not members of the majority faith in Utah.
Very truly yours,
cc. Mark Shurtleff