Steakhouse Apologizes: Morton's Accused of Mistreating Cancer Patient

Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013 11:40 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Morton's Steakhouse has apologized after a waitress demanded that a man battling cancer remove his hat while dining inside one of their establishments in Nashville, Tenn.

The incident occurred over the weekend when Robert Chambers, who is undergoing chemotherapy, was instructed to remove a wool beanie from his head because it reportedly violated the upscale steakhouse's dress code.

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Chambers had been dining with 14 coworkers as part of a year-end holiday party when the waitress approached him while the group was in the process of settling their $2,000 bill, Nashville's Fox17 WZTV reported.

Witnesses told WZTV that Chambers wears the beanie to keep warm during the winter because he gets cold easily as a result of his chemotherapy.

Chambers was subsequently approached by the steakhouse's manager who told him he should have brought a doctor's note or called ahead so that the restaurant could have set aside a more private dining area for their party.

Chambers eventually removed his hat; however, a heated exchange between his coworkers and restaurant staff ensued. The manager then flagged down two police officers and asked them to assist the group in leaving the steakhouse, Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron told The Tennessean.

There were no reports of arrests made.

On Monday evening, Morton's Vice President of Operations and Chief Operating Officer Tim Whitlock posted a message to the upscale steakhouse's Facebook feed about the matter after the restaurant received a firestorm of criticism for the way in which they handled the matter.

"Our executive team has been in contact with Mr. Chambers who fully accepted our apology," Whitlock wrote.

"There was a complete and total misunderstanding by our staff who had no idea that our guest had a medical condition. Our actions were uninformed and our intentions were not malicious," he added. "As a sign of our sincere apology and commitment to the community, we are donating on behalf of Mr. Chambers, $2,000.00 to the St. Jude’s Hospital. In addition, Morton's The Steakhouse will also partner with Mr. Chambers to underwrite a cancer fundraiser."

Chambers accompanied Whitlock's Facebook post with one of his own, writing on Monday, "Apology accepted, time too [sic] be on. I have more important things to fight than Morton's. Thanks to all of you for your words of support and angst over the situation. It's about empathy and how people are treated regardless of the situation. Again thanks for the support."

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