Fastrip apologizes for employee's 'choice of words' in viral video about homeless people

Attorney: Not illegal for businesses to discriminate based on homelessness

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A woman who goes by "Alissa Smith" on Facebook, posted a video Friday morning, with one request of her Facebook friends, "Share."

WARNING: Video/ppst may contain foul language.

The video shows a woman walk into the Fastrip on Gosford Road and White Lane and pay for a cigar with change.

"We're not allowing the homeless people in here anymore," the employee then says twice. 

The video has been shared nearly 4,000 times.

Director of Fastrip Stores Rich Abel told 17 News over the phone Monday, he apologizes for the wording that was used. 

Abel clarified that the company's policy is "panhandlers or any illegal activities" are not allowed on their properties.

We asked James Bass, an attorney at Swanson O'Dell, if it is illegal for a private business to refuse service because of homelessness.

"The courts have generally found under the fifth and fourteenth amendments that it's illegal to discriminate against certain groups or protected classes such as race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, and at this points the courts have found that homelessness is not one of those protected classes," explained Bass. 

We went out to that Fastrip and met Bret Goodman, a homeless man who occasionally asks for change by the gas station.

Goodman knew of the video, and defended the Fastrip.

"I think it's blown out of proportion, these employees deal with enough," said Goodman.

Mr. Abel from Fastrip noted his company has donated over $200,000 to Golden Empire Gleaners the Mission at Kern and other organizations that support the needy, adding Fastrip will continue to provide "great service" to all customers including the homeless.

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