Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

In 2010, the Larchmont Gazette ceased publication. In 2011 the publishers donated all contents to the Larchmont Historical Society, which will continue to make the Gazette archives available online.

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Black Teen & Matsumoto Restaurant Settle Race Suit

Seven months after an African-American teen from Larchmont sued Matsumoto for racial discrimination and picketed with friends outside the Larchmont Avenue restaurant, the parties have settled out of court, according to lawyers for both sides.

Abby Brammer, now 17 and a freshman college student, will receive a financial award in return for dropping her federal civil rights suit. She had asserted that Matsumoto’s manager, Marty Chan (listed as Marty Doe in the filing), had been prepared to hire her part-time as the restaurant’s greeter, but changed his mind when he saw she was black. He claimed she did not have the right demeanor for the job. (See: Hiring Discrimination at Matsumoto? Suit, Protest & Possible Settlement.)

The settlement was concluded earlier this month and announced on Friday, January 29, by Ms. Brammer’s attorney, Larchmont resident Josh Friedman. Included was a statement clearing Ms. Brammer’s backers to once again patronize the restaurant:

“Those who stayed away in support of her cause may return with a clear conscience,” the statement read. “Ms Brammer thanks Larchmont, Mamaroneck and all of her friends for their support which allowed her to achieve her goal of insuring that racial discrimination will not be tolerated in our community.”

Details of the settlement are being withheld pending approval by a judge, which is required when a minor is involved. Attorneys for both sides characterized the sums involved as “nominal.”

The restaurant’s lawyer, Benjamin B. Xue, stressed that “no one admitted any wrong doing.” His clients agreed to pay in order “to avoid the cost of prolonged litigation.”

However, they also agreed to be “prohibited permanently from discriminating in employment on the basis of race” and to three years of court supervision over the injunction.

This was not problem, indicated Mr. Xue. “My clients have always been doing that [not discriminating] and will continue to make their best effort to hire a diverse work force.”

“I’m hoping that the cloud over the restaurant will clear now that the settlement has been reached,” said Mr. Xue. “”The business suffered tremendously because of the boycott.”

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20 comments to Black Teen & Matsumoto Restaurant Settle Race Suit

  • Larchmont Larry

    In another web-based publication, it was said that the parents of the “aggrieved” party hoped to “WIN” enough money to pay for college.

    That there is a legal stick up job!


  • larchmontlifer

    “Ms Brammer thanks Larchmont, Mamaroneck and all of her friends for their support which allowed her to achieve her goal of insuring that racial discrimination will not be tolerated in our community.”

    If that was truly her goal then she should donate the money to a worthy cause. This settlement leaves one in doubt of her actual motivation…

  • Neighbor

    Agree with Larchmont Larry. Hope they are happy when the restaurant closes and we have another empty storefront and a dozen people out of work. The restaurant owner clearly learned his lesson from the boycott and bad press.

    • Paralegal Eagle

      Neighbor – to your point, it is a bad situation all around. The tide has turned when reverse discrimination will soon be at the forefront of everyone’s lips. For now that we have a black president; biracial is the correct term perhaps; African Americans are going to have a MUCH harder time playing the race card going forward.

      Paying for college should never have been the end result here. It should have been to gain “some” (as in menial) financial security while awaiting her next job. Not to pay for college altogether – as she would NEVER have been able to do so on a meager hourly payment from a hostess job at a local Asian restaurant. In fact, they don’t pay their own people well because their profit margins are so slim. But unlike the Larchmont student of African American descent, the Asian workers can’t cry discrimination wolf.

      I think the family of this girl has shown their true intentions which really does them a total dis-service in the long run – there will undoubtedly be backlash against them when the restaurant closes down due to it’s inability to remove the negative image it has already inherited.

      This is NOT how our legal judiciary system is supposed to work. I am sure that going forward, there will be a much more stringent interview process – as the term “buyer beware” is now at the front of every merchant’s mind. That or get yourselves a good employment lawyer to draw up an air tight contract for the next hire. It’s well worth the investment in today’s litigious and greed mongering/shameless society.

      Wonder who is laughing all the way to the bank now?

      Very bad stuff….

  • Friend of the Family

    So many are blind to how trully segregated and white the Village of Larchmont and Township of Mamaroneck are and so can’t quite imagine what Abby Brammer’s reality was while growing up here. I know we like to pride ourselves on being liberal and enlightened, but as Barack Obama’s odyssey has revealed, racism just gets more subtle in such an environment. As the mother of one of Abby’s best friends, I know her to be a lovely young woman. In fact, her “demeanor” is just what you’d want for a restaurant hostess, but the owner of Matsumoto never took the time to find this out. By the way, this was not the first time Abby suffered discrimination in her search for a summer or after school job, this was just the most overt example and, to Abby’s credit, she decided to make it the last. As for the attacks on the settlement and how it may be used, I think the family let slip Abby’s need for college tuition because THAT WAS EXACTLY WHY SHE NEEDED THE JOB! I think it is unfortunate that this has been construed as mercenary. And anyway, how many of us get to know exactly how our neighbors are spending their Wall Street bonuses? I might have an opinion about that! I think we need to weigh what exactly we want in our own backyard: another empty storefront, or a storefront filled with racists?

  • Neighbor Too

    “…a storefront filled with racists?”

    A little extreme. It’s more likely a first generation man without the cultural or educational background to understand what you can do/say and what our neighborhood would welcome. Margins are slim in restaurants even in the best of times. I would bet the legal costs and settlement put him out of business.

  • Redacted

    “but as Barack Obama’s odyssey has revealed, racism just gets more subtle in such an environment.”

    I don’t want to go off on a tangent here, but please, spare me the talk of Obama’s “odyssey”. He went to an Ivy League university, and top drawer law school. I don’t recall reading of his having to labor in fields, or risking being beaten by southern police. He grew up in a rather comfortable, if unorthodox, middle class environment. Please cease the attempt at myth-making.

    As to the case at hand. I don’t know the motives of this girl, nor the proprietor of the restaurant. I wasn’t there at the time, so I can’t speak to the girl’s demeanor–whether it was apparent that she was not good at the job or not. Maybe he did react negatively for no good reason. Who can say?

    It is unfortunate that this could not have been worked out without involving lawyers. But, seeing as we have an abundance of them in this community, it may be too much to ask. It would be nice if people of good faith could work out these kinds of things as human beings and not mega-phones of political righteousness. . .

    As to the comments of “trully segregated and white the Village of Larchmont and Township of Mamaroneck are”. .

    What does the above mean? Is the writer aware that, (especially) Larchmont is a very wealthy community?

    Historically, African-Americans have been among the poorer demographics in this country, for obvious historical reasons. (slavery, discrimination, etc) So it would stand to reason, that there would be fewer black families in Larchmont than other, less well off communities. This socio-economic fact is more of a reason than some “subtle” form of racism. In fact this veiled charge, in itself is a form of “subtle” sterotyping.

    I’m white, and don’t live in the VOL, and I can barely afford to live here. I am currently unemployed. When I was working, I didn’t work on Wall Street, and my company paid no bonuses–at any time.

    There word “diversity” means more than just people who don’t look like you. It means people who don’t think like you, who don’t share your views. There are all types of people in the Larchmont/Mamaroneck community: black, white, Latino, wealthy, poor, and in-between. Please don’t try to broad brush any of us.

  • Observer

    I know how hurtful racism or discrimination of any sort is. When I was 18 years old, and looking for my first job, I encountered a similar experience. I was hired by a small law firm…and asked “what church is near you.” I got the signal..and gave the name of the church that is near me…However, I didn’t attend it. After working a few days, the lawyer asked if I was a member of the church…and I told him that “I wasn’t Christian.” The following day, he called me and told me that he no longer wanted me to work for him…because he wanted a Christian person instead.

    I was also blocked from pursing a career because I was a female wanting to enter a Father/Son industry. Prejudice comes in many forms…not only against African/Americans. It is wrong .. no matter what form it takes.

  • Observer

    Reported in another online publication “The attorney representing the plaintiffs in a lawsuit claiming discrimination by Matsumoto restaurant in Larchmont says the restaurant has agreed to pay a $25,000 settlement pending Court approval. The parents of the girl involved told theLoop last July they hoped to win enough money to pay for her college. TheLoop did not report this sum earlier despite knowledge, at the request of plaintiffs’ counsel.”

  • Have you ever went for a job and didn`t get it? Well, maybe we should all SUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She better give that to a good cause and not her cause. Boy,what a lawyers profit, as always. I hope all her so called friends learned now how to protest, because thats all they do now adays.

    • No pity party 4 me

      LOL – I would LOVE to go back in time and sue the pants off of all the muckity mucks I worked for and suffered through who made the most egregious, outrageous, atrocious, disgusting, despicable downright egotistical, gender bending, sexually charged discriminatory remarks at me during my 20+ years of post graduate employment. I was chased around desks, thrown up against the wall, made to walk dozens of blocks in the rain, sleet or snow, spent my own money on office supplies without reimbursement, had to work til midnight many weeks and months out of the year w/out any pay but my meager salary, and worst of all, couldn’t eat 3 meals a day if I wanted to hop a subway home at night vs. walking the 30 blocks in heels because I didn’t have enough money to eat and commute despite the bad treatment. Suffering surrogates? No, this was what we did to earn a living and what we tolerated it because slamming employers w/ lawsuits was just out of the question and considered highly inappropriate or worse career suicide.

      But instead, I stuck it out, and put up with it because as a white anglo saxon, female, under 40 years of age, who is college educated, w/out any perceived disabilities, I have not a leg to stand upon and would never win a dime as a result even if my situation was FAR WORSE for MANY YEARS, DECADES longer than this young Abby had endured. The attorneys I consulted numerous times said “forget it, unless you’re a minority, which you are clearly not today, then you will lose, and

      Today I am a successful and self employed entrepreneur reporting to me, myself and of course, my customers. Growing up in Larchmont, I learned to take it on the cheek, and if they swung back again after that, just take it on the other cheek. Because in the end, perseverance and toughness will be one’s best friend in the working world. Short term gains will sacrifice long term successes. As for which is more lucrative and yields greater profitability, I’ll take the latter.

  • Townie

    “By the way, this was not the first time Abby suffered discrimination in her search for a summer or after school job, this was just the most overt example and, to Abby’s credit, she decided to make it the last.”…..Really? Does anyone really believe that lawsuits end discrimination on any level? I doubt that Abby would believe that this was her last brush with racial discrimination. I’m not sure whether this is over-blown idealism or just naivete on the part of the “Friend of the Family” writer.

    • Observer

      Who walks through life without experiencing some sort of discrimination? Just ask a Muslim or Hasidic Jew; a short man, a fat woman, a learning disabled student, an ugly person, or a balding 20 year old male. Discrimination comes in many forms, not only racial. I wish we didn’t experience discrimination, but I suspect we all do on some part.

      My suggestion to Abby is to “move on” with her life, shrug off those who are ignorant, and let “success be her revenge.” Abby, don’t focus on who wrongs you…focus on who helps you no matter what race they are. The worse thing you can do is to identify as a “victim” at your young age. You are more than that.

  • Friend of the Family

    Ok everyone, I’m not a lawyer, but let’s try to remember that denying a person employment because of their race or the color of their skin is ILLEGAL. It is illegal in Birmingham and it is illegal in Larchmont. This was something that Abby’s friend understood as soon as the owner told her that Abby was not the right kind of girl for the job. Here is the description of what she said happened quoted from the Gazette’s earlier reporting: “Their witness is Rebecca Kitsis, a Caucasian friend from Mamaroneck High School, who was vacating the Matsumoto job as cashier, telephone order taker and hostess to focus on her studies. When Rebecca told Mr. Chen about Abby over the phone on March 20, “He was very excited and glad to have me on the team,” Abby recalls. But when they met later that evening at the restaurant where Abby had begun training under Rebecca, “he was reluctant to even shake my hand,” she told the Gazette. For the most part, Mr. Chen does not disagree with Rebecca’s narrative in the legal papers about what happened next: After observing Abby work for less than fifteen minutes, Mr. Chen pulled Rebecca aside, told her he was not a racist, but said it would be bad for business to have Abby work there. “That’s illegal.” Rebecca recalls telling Mr. Chen. Abby and Rebecca walked out of the restaurant, not waiting to be paid for the evening as Mr. Chen had offered.”

    Now, if a seventeen year student has learned enough in high school or at church or temple and in her home about right and wrong, civil rights history and law in the United States to immediately recognize Mr. Chen’s actions as illegal, why is everyone else having so much trouble seeing it?

    “It’s more likely a first generation man without the cultural or educational background to understand what you can do/say and what our neighborhood would welcome.” First, it has nothing to do with what our neighborhood would or would not welcome, it is ILLEGAL. Our NATION, at least on the books, does not welcome it. And second, ignorance of the law does not excuse someone when they break it. This is exactly why immigrants applying for citizenship study US history (including civil rights) as well as our legal systems. If Mr. Chen is in fact a recent immigrant, isn’t it all the more tragic that a recent immigrant of one minority perpetrated this on another? But why did he do this? What was Mr. Chen responding too? His own innate prejudice against African-Americans, or, his concern that Larchmonters coming into his restaurant might turn away at the sight of a black teenager? Go figure?? I don’t get it myself. Perhaps real Americans, laws aside, are not setting good examples for our recent immigrants.

    Another reminder: it is NOT illegal to SUE someone for denying you employment because of your race or the color of your skin (or your sex, or your age….). The Brammer’s really don’t need to explain them selves here and I’m sorry the fact of Abby needing college money has clouded right from wrong for everyone. Our courts allow these suits in order to undo damages and, hopefully, stop such discrimination. I know everyone wants everyone involved to be polite in a live-and-let live village, but I have neighbors who have sued neighbors over fences and downed trees. So, Abby should NOT sue over a violation of her civil rights??? Right, I understand that too.

    “Does anyone really believe that lawsuits end discrimination on any level?” NO, I sure don’t. So, that being the case, yeah, let’s just advise Abby to walk away next time and learn to live with her black skin since we all know lawsuits don’t work to solve the bigger problem. You’re right, Abby faces a lifetime of discrimination. And it all started here.

    In closing, one more word about Obama’s odyssey: When, at the beginning of Barack’s campaign, Michelle Obama was asked if she feared for her husband’s safety, she replied that she did, course, but she also observed that as a black man, he could get shot just walking down the street in his own neighborhood of Hyde Park. I’m from Chicago. This is TRUE. And a Harvard degree won’t change that for any black man because you can’t see the Harvard degree. That’s a consciousness that us white people don’t share and don’t have to maintain as we move through this world.

    Which is maybe why everyone seems to believe Abby is suing just for the money.

  • bobo

    Friend of the family,
    Didn’t the Brammer’s explain themselves when they said they hoped to win enough money to pay for college?

  • Larchmont Neighbor

    I don’t think anyone here is doubting whether racism occurred or wishes the young women ill will. It’s just a matter of proportionality . The student organized boycott and bad press were the right response. Suing over a part time position like this was like bringing a gun to a knife fight.

  • Observer

    Friend of Family…speak for yourself.

    I am white and not a racist. I don’t appreciate your labeling “blacks as facing a life of discrimination.” I don’t agree.

    Any spouse of a President worries that they may be shot. After all, previous Presidents who have been attacked were WHITE. Give it up already Friend of Amy. You protesteth too much. What’s your issue?

    Perhaps Amy needs some new “friends of family.” Peace and happiness…

  • Redacted

    “but she also observed that as a black man, he could get shot just walking down the street in his own neighborhood of Hyde Park.”

    And as a white man, I could get shot in the South Bronx, Harlem, Bed-Stuy, or yes, even Larchmont. What’s your point? Only black people are victims of violent crime? Please, now you’re just being silly.

    • Disappointing Outcome

      Redacted – great points from you here. But the only thing you forgot to add was the part about reverse discrimination.

      Yes, a white man could get shot walking through the S.Bronx, Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn or Harlem or the South Side of Chicago for that matter…BUT, when it happens to a Black Man, Rev. Al Sharpton, takes it to the Streets along w/ his hanger oners including the Rev. Jesse Jackson on occasion.

      But if a White guy gets shot in a bad neighborhood the question is always posed back to the public by the main stream media, “What the HECK was he doing in that neighborhood anyhow? Soliciting something illegal most likely”…

      So that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I am hoping that we can ERADICATE discrimination in any way, shape or form. So that not one ethnic or non ethnic for that matter, group, can claim that they were were discriminated against. As tired as I am about hearing how our society discriminates, I am equally tired of those who play the race card.

      I have mixed feelings about what happened in the case of Chinese Restaurant vs. The African American employee – both can play the race card here yet only one got away with it.

      No matter how you slice it, this is distasteful all around. The opportunity to make it right never happened – taking a financial settlement did nothing to improve race relations. None whatsoever.

      Even the judge and our judicial system failed in this situation. The outcome created more division and absolutely zero unity nor goodwill. A poor solution. Is this what they teach students in law school? Failure to resolve???

  • LarchmontGirl

    Who amongst us – not a Supreme Court Justice in the group, I am willing to bet – is going to draw the line between overt prejudice, discrimination, and unconscious bias?

    If I am browsing amongst new books at the bookstore or in the library and only pick up those whose authors – based on photos and promotional materials – are white, should I be accused of discrimination? If I choose a style of dress that tends toward that associated with gangs should I be accused of disrespecting cultures not represented by those gangs?

    None of us has reached adulthood without absorbing bias at levels from the meaningless (Gold medal flour or Pillsbury?) to the frightening (elected Catholics will follow the Pope not the public they represent, etc.)

    From all I have read, it certainly seems that Mr. Chen changed his tune from the time he heard about Abby and when he actually met her. But let’s not rule out the possibility that he may have had a knee jerk reaction to his own pre-conceived notion that Rebecca’s friend was white.

    It is likely that his actions fall within the category of illegal. The optimist in me wants to believe that Abby has not endured this sort of blatant discrimination in our town/village before.