A Chinese restaurant in Sydney is considering legal action after a newspaper published a story which claimed it charged higher prices for non-Chinese customers.
Yin Li Sichuan Chinese Restaurant received racist abuse online and over the phone following the publication of an article in the Daily Telegraph which claimed it charged “10 per cent extra per dish” for English speakers. The news story also accused business owner Diana Xu of suggesting this was meant to be a secret among Asian customers.
However speaking to Daily Mail Australia, Xu’s lawyer said her client denies telling the Daily Telegraph reporter there was a different price for Asian customers.
“The difference between the prices is only for three items on the menu, and it is because of a printing error,” she said. “The Chinese menu had not been updated.”
Xu told Daily Mail Australia all customers were treated the same and she was shocked and upset to read the article accusing her of discrimination.
“We have been open for 13 years, we can promise everything is the same,” she told Daily Mail Australia. “All customers, if they come in my restaurant, are welcome.”
Sally Scott, partner at Hall & Wilcox Lawyers, told SmartCompany newspapers enjoy a fair degree of legal protection in Australia in order to encourage the free-flow of information and freedom of the press.
“Nevertheless, if a business is concerned about damage to its reputation due to a newspaper article, there are a number of possible actions that could at least be considered, including defamation, misleading conduct or injurious falsehood,” says Scott.
But Scott says a company’s ability to sue for defamation is more restricted now than in the past.
“Only companies with less than 10 employees that are not related to another company and not-for-profit companies that are not public companies can sue for defamation,” says Scott.
“This will exclude many companies from taking action for defamation.”
Scott says businesses also need to consider the reputational risks associated with taking action or sending a complaint.
“This could extend the coverage of the issue and cause more damage,” she said.
SmartCompany contacted Ren Zhou Lawyers for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.
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