Morton’s Steakhouse is at the center of a media firestorm after kicking a cancer patient out of its Nashville, Tenn. location over the weekend for wearing a hat. Robert Chambers, host of Tennessee shopping channel show called The Coin Vault, was at his company Christmas party when a restaurant employee approached him and asked him to take off his beanie. When Chambers explained his medical condition, he was told that he either needed a medical note or should leave the restaurant.
"My son says, 'He has cancer. His head gets cold. He needs to wear the toboggan,'” Chambers explained to NashvilleScene. “The manager says, 'If you had made prior arrangements, we could have put you in a private room, and he could have worn it. Or you could bring a doctor's note, and you could wear it,' which I think is kind of a [expletive] answer because nowhere on Morton's policy does it say if you've got a doctor's note you can wear a hat in the restaurant.”
While Morton’s does encourage “business” or “smart casual” attire, it does not explicitly prohibit hats from being worn in its dining room, according to its site. The restaurant does give suggestions on what is appropriate attire but only says that “t-shirts, shorts, and casual sandals are not recommended for dining at Morton’s.”
Of course, guests dining at the restaurant who witnessed the exchange between the restaurant employees and Chambers were offended by what they saw. Some took to the company’s Facebook and Yelp profiles to express their disgust with the restaurant’s handling of Chambers and his entire party, who were eventually asked to leave the restaurant. Initially, the company vowed via Facebook to “make things right” with Chambers and his party. Later, Morton’s released a statement apologizing for the incident and making it clear that it personally contacted Chambers to apologize as well: "Our executive team has been in contact with Mr. Chambers, who fully accepted our apology. 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.”
Chambers took to his Facebook to let his friends know that he has accepted the company’s apology and that Morton’s will make a donation in the amount of his party’s $2000 check to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital: “I just had a 30-minute conversation with Morton's COO Tim Whitlock. He and I talked about Friday night, and the unfortunate events. He was very apologetic and we had a good discussion. End result, Morton's will make a donation in the amount of our check to St Jude's Children's Hospital. Apology accepted time to 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.”