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Local Panera Under Scrutiny for Sign

The Panera Bread on Elmwood Avenue faced scrutiny on February 4 when it hung a sign that required all Canisius High School students be accompanied by a parent or guardian inside the restaurant. The demand was placed in order to address “issues” at the location. Channel 2 News reached out to corporate attorney Jeffrey Reina for his analysis of the legality and ramifications of the sign. The full story is available on the WGRZ website.

Sign potentially discriminatory

Elmwood Avenue’s Panera Bread location recently posted a sign reading, “Canisius High School Students: You must be accompanied by an adult or guardian. No exceptions.” The sign was noticed by WGRZ on Thursday evening and an image of it was posted to Twitter. There was a strong reaction to it and some wondered if the restrictions against Canisius High students was legal. Jeffrey Reina told WGRZ that there are state laws prohibiting businesses from singling out certain groups of people and holding them to a different standard than other consumers. “It raises a host of issues as to, how do you enforce such a policy? How do you identify who is or who is not a Canisius student that’s coming onto the premises?” he said. “Whenever you’re singling out one particular group over another, there’s always issues as to why that is,” Mr. Reina continued.

Legal experts informed WGRZ that a better option for Panera Bread would have been to address the sign to all students or consumers under a certain age. This would have been a less discriminatory restriction than singling out Canisius High students.

Panera removed sign

According to WGRZ, Canisius High released a statement acknowledging that the Panera expressed concerns, going on to say that those concerns have been addressed with the students. On Friday, February 5, WGRZ reported that the sign had been taken down and that its removal was Panera Bread’s decision.

About Jeffrey F. Reina

Jeffrey F. Reina is a senior partner who oversees Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria's Business and Commercial Litigation Practice Area. He resolves disputes for clients in a number of different areas, such as contracts, employment agreements, and partnership matters. Before becoming an attorney, Mr. Reina spent nearly a decade in the restaurant industry and served as general manager for a multi-million dollar franchise for a number of years. This business experience gives him a unique perspective on the business issues his clients face.

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