President Donald Trump’s signature red hat with its “Make American Great Again” slogan was bought and worn as a symbol of support, both during and after the presidential campaign.
But one man alleges in a discrimination suit that, for him, wearing the hat is not a political statement – it’s a religious symbol.
Philadelphia accountant Greg Piatek sued a New York bar after he claims he was refused service while wearing a MAGA hat. The lawsuit took a turn last week when Piatek’s lawyers, arguing against a motion to dismiss, claimed he was “adhering to his closely held spiritual beliefs by adorning the hat in question.” Piatek’s lawyer, Paul Liggieri, provided McClatchy with copies of the arguments filed against the motion.
“At the time (Piatek) wore his hat, the election of President Trump was over and therefore (he) had no reason to wear the hat for any political purpose,” Piatek’s lawyers argued in the filing provided to McClatchy. “Rather, (he) wore his hat to pay tribute to the fallen heroes and victims of Sept. 11, 2011.”
While the hat “was a product of a political campaign, its origins and the public perception of its meaning are not relevant to (Piatek’s) personal religious motivation,” the document reads. His wearing the hat, which he did often, was a way of paying spiritual tribute and “was a part of his creed,” according to court filings.
That would put Piatek into a protected class of people and allow the suit to continue, his lawyers argued.
The attorney for the Happiest Hour says the whole thing is a publicity stunt in the form of a lawsuit, according to Salon.
According to the original suit, which was filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York in March and reported by Heavy and other news sources, Piatek was wearing the MAGA hat when he stopped in at The Happiest Hour in New York City on Jan. 28. He had just visited the 9/11 Memorial with friends.
Piatek claims in the original suit that the bartenders denied him drinks. Eventually, he was asked to leave by bar management, who said he had spoken to the owner and “anyone who supports Trump or believes what you believe is not welcome here. And you need to leave right now because we won’t serve you,” according to Heavy. The suit claims Piatek was eventually escorted from the premises by bouncers.
While the Happiest Hour did not immediately respond to the lawsuit, it now denies Piatek’s story and provided receipts that show he spent more than $180 before being asked to leave, according to Salon. Other sources report he also left a 20 percent tip, as is standard bar practice.
Piatek would not be alone his experiences wearing the president’s signature cap.
In March, New York Post writer Dean Balsamini walked the city in a MAGA hat to see just what kind of reactions he would get. They were not always diplomatic, he wrote.
“Hipsters and trustafarians along Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg either did a double take, or shot me a death stare or a snarky remark.”
A judge in Canada was suspended for 30 days without pay after wearing his MAGA hat into the courtroom. The action received a “torrent of formal complaints,” according to the Guardian, and the judge is facing a disciplinary hearing and possible removal from the bench.
In August, two teenagers made BuzzFeed News after allegedly being harassed at Howard University for wearing Make America Great Again hats and shirts. “We were getting dirty looks and were completely harassed by these Howard students,” 16-year-old Allie Vandee told BuzzFeed.