Green card holder denied drinks at Comerica Park bar

DETROIT — A Comerica Park bar is standing by a decision to deny a customer an alcoholic beverage because a server and manager didn’t recognize her green card as valid ID.

According to our media partners at Mlive, Palesa Matinde, a 25-year-old Zimbabwe native who lives in Detroit, had no trouble getting a beer while in the stands at the April 26 Detroit Tigers game, but ran into trouble when she and her husband ordered Moscow Mules at the Pitcher’s Pub on the stadium’s second level.

The University of Michigan graduate holds a government-issued U.S. permanent resident ID, but doesn’t drive and has no state ID.

The waitress, according to Matinde, “winced” at her green card, left for a moment and returned to tell her the pub does not accept green cards as ID.

“I’m like ‘What do you mean you don’t accept this?’ and she’s like ‘I don’t know. We don’t accept this,'” Matinde said.

The argument that followed led to Matinde being escorted out of the bar, leaving her feeling humiliated.

The company that runs the bar confirmed the woman was denied service, saying staff members are trained to err on the side of caution while serving alcohol, and that Matinde caused a disturbance before being removed.

Matinde said a manager told her the pub would only accept U.S. government-issued ID.

“At that point, my husband said ‘That’s precisely what you’re holding,'” she said.

Matinde said she was asked for a passport or driver’s license.

“I said ‘Let me educate you, since you’re interested,'” Matinde said. “‘I can only obtain a passport after three years, after my third anniversary, and I can’t get a driver’s license because I don’t drive and either way, I have showed you a government-issued ID.'”

Her Zimbabwe-issued ID was also rejected, and management soon called on a security guard to remove the couple from the bar.

“I have never in my life been kicked out or escorted out,” Matinde said.

Officials at Comerica Park referred comments to Delaware North Sportservice, a contracted company that provides beverages for the stadium.

Victoria Hong, corporate communications director for Delaware North, said the company trains more than 500 seasonal workers to recognize certain forms of ID.

“To ensure our company’s compliance with responsible alcohol beverage service, we limit the number of acceptable forms of government identification,” Hong said in a statement.

“We chose select forms of identification that we believed would cover the largest number of guests.

“We take the responsibility of serving alcohol to our adult fans very seriously and encourage our workers to err on the side of caution and decline service unless they recognize the form of identification.”

Hong also offered an explanation for Matinde’s removal from the restaurant.

“Ms. Matinde was only asked to leave the restaurant when she loudly argued with our staff and caused a disturbance,” Hong said.

Matinde, who said she declined an offer of a complimentary suite with dinner and drinks by Comerica Park guest services, has sought legal counsel on the incident.

Her lawyer, Detroit attorney Bill Goodman, said he believes the bar may have violated several civil rights laws, but was unsure whether Matinde will take legal action.

Establishments have the discretion to reject ID’s appearing invalid, Goodman said, “but they don’t have discretion to reject ID based upon something that identifies one as non-U.S. citizens.”

Michigan law requires sellers of alcohol to make a “good faith effort to determine the age” of a customer by examining a driver’s license, state ID, military ID or “any other bona fide picture identification which establishes the identity and age of the person.”

The article was first seen on Mlive.com.

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