By Sarah Hale, SVI Media
Rusty and Marc Andrus, owners of Rustlers Restaurant and Saloon, have filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Town of Thayne. The suit was filed in federal court on Tuesday, Jan. 9.
The suit alleges that Rusty and Marc and their business have been “met with push-back, hostility, and utterly disparate treatment” from the Town of Thayne in “comparison to other similarly situated” citizens and business owners with the town.
The suit specifically references a March 31, 2016 public hearing at the Thayne Town Hall relating to a liquor license application. According to the lawsuit, during the more than two and a half hour public hearing Rusty and Marc “were subjected to verbal accusations and hostility from multiple members of the town council.”
The suit alleges that during the March 31, 2016 meeting, members of the audience “made hostile gay slurs” that were directed toward Rusty and Marc.
The suit alleges that Rustlers Restaurant and Saloon was required to fence its parking lot, while similar businesses in the town had no such requirements.
The business was prohibited from adding a neon sign, according to the suit, while other similar businesses in Thayne have such signage.
The suit alleges that Rustlers Restaurant and Saloon has been under scrutiny from the town and has been required to submit certifications and documentation that other similar businesses have not submitted.
The suit states that such behavior on the part of the town is “highly demonstrative” that the town “strictly [applies] each and every ordinance, law and regulation that [it] can to [Rusty and Marc and their business] but fail or refuse to, and apparently willfully ignore such ordinances, laws and regulations as to every other similarly situated but non-LGBT owned business within [Thayne’s] jurisdiction.”
The suit alleges that because the town refuses to enforce or live by its own regulations and laws in relation to all similar businesses, Rustlers Restaurant and Saloon has incurred damages.
“On multiple occasions [we] and [our] employees have been harassed and threatened verbally by patrons of other establishments, some of whom have been over-served at other competing establishments, in violation of [the town’s] ordinances or have left other establishments with open containers of alcohol, in violation of [the town’s] ordinances,” the suit states. “Despite these repeated and pervasive incidents being reported to Thayne law enforcement as well as [the town] no meaningful enforcement efforts or action whatsoever have been taken by [the town].”
The lawsuit states that by failing to take action and enforce its own ordinances and regulations, the Town of Thayne has “established an example for the community to follow and has emboldened private citizens to harass and discriminate against [Rusty and Marc] based on their LGBT status.”
The suit asks for all discriminative behavior toward the business and its owners to cease; that legal expenses and court fees be covered; and the business and its owners to be awarded damages in the amount to be proven at trial.
The Town of Thayne has issued no statements or comments relating to the lawsuit.
SVI Media will continue to follow this story as it develops.
According to Courthousenews.com, Marc and Rusty Andrus, owners of Rustlers Restaurant and Saloon in Thayne have filed a suit against the Town of Thayne alleging that they have been discriminated against.
According to the Rustlers website, the restaurant is currently closed until April for a “Winter break”.
Information on Courthousenews.com states that the business was charged an inflated price for a liquor license and was also forced to build lot improvements not required by the Town of Thayne nor by other similar businesses.
SVI Media is working on this story and will have updates as they become available.
The Town of Thayne is located in Lincoln County and has approximately 380 people according to the most recent census.