Legal Question in Discrimination Law in California

Is this age discrimination?

I was recently in a grocery store purchasing about 10 items. 1 of the items I was purchasing was a non-alcoholic

bottle of sweet&sour mix. When the cashier rang me up they refused to sell me the mix because I am only 20

years old. When I kindly pointed out that the mix was non-alcoholic the cashier simply said " I don't care! I'm not

selling it to you!" As far as I know I am of legal age to purchase this mix because it is non-alcoholic and I have

also purchased other mixes at this store previously (pina colada, Collins etc.)Do I have a case to file a lawsuit

against them? Possibly Age discrimination?

Asked on 10/05/99, 11:12 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Re: Is this age discrimination?


I don't believe any law protects you from being discriminated against because you are young. (Similarly, if white people are discriminated against, there is generally no recourse.)

In general, a store may sell to whoever it wants and may likewise refuse to sell anything to anyone on an individual basis. If the store's policy is to discriminate against a protected class of people, such as a racial minority, that's a different sort of matter, but you're not in a protected class. The fact that the laws don't allow you to buy the alcohol is clear proof of that.

Practically speaking, common sense would also work against you: "children" (sorry) buying mixers is like people buying crack pipes or thieves buying lock-picks. When I went to private boarding school, there was not only a rule against alcohol use, there was also a rule against alcohol containers after a kid who mysteriously grew the beer can collection on his wall week by week. I remember the teacher saying that the rule was to help keep him (yea, right) from worrying or wondering about a particular student drinking, to keep him from being unduly suspicious towards that student. (What a crock of bull.) Now my state has an open container law: if you have an open (even empty) alcohol container in your car (even if you are sober), you're busted.

On the other hand, remember the ol' guy in To Kill A Mockingbird who publicly drank from a straw coming out of a paper bag; he had appearances to keep up, after all, even though it turned out he was only sipping milkshakes.

Stay sober and wait out your 20th year if you can bear it. Mixes can get you seriously loaded tooooo quick.

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Answered on 10/06/99, 5:53 pm
John Hayes The John Hayes Law Offices

Re: Is this age discrimination?

Generally stores have the right to refuse to sell certain items. In this case since the mix was intended for alcohol to be included she may have felt that if she sold you the mix she would be knowingly contributing to the delinquincy of a minor. If it happens again I would ask to speak with the manager and explain your situation. If you are still having problems with the store right a formal letter to the company explaining your situation. Good luck.

John Hayes

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Answered on 10/06/99, 5:56 pm
Ken Koury Kenneth P. Koury, Esq.

Re: Is this age discrimination?

Let me ask you this, how many thousands of dollars are you willing to pay an attorney to file a lawsuit where the most you will win is a $2 bottle of mixer?

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Answered on 10/06/99, 6:19 pm

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