Jeff Ruby vs. OJ Simpson – Can A Business Serve and Refuse Customers At Will?

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We've had quite the shakeup here in Louisville recently as SteakHouse owner Jeff Ruby refused to serve OJ Simpson on the even of the Kentucky Derby. Ruby gives his reason for not serving Simpson as:

I didn't want to serve him because of my convictions of what he's done to those families," Ruby, owner of Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "The way he continues to torture the lives of those families … with his behavior, attitude and conduct."

Of course, the first thing that happened were some local protests and claims of racial discrimination, despite that fact that Ruby gave Simpson's table to Michael Jordan immediately after the incident.

It raises an interesting question about the rights of business owners in regards to their views. Can Ruby pick and choose who to serve? Can businesses in general discriminate against certain individuals as long as they don't discriminate against an entire category of people? I'm sure you can guess that, as a business pundit, I prefer to stand up for the rights of Jeff Ruby to do as he pleases with his business.

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As a side note, I work almost directly across the street from Jeff Ruby's restaurant, and so far I haven't noticed any slowdown in business.