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Author Topic: Oregon bar owner fined $400,000 for discriminating against transgender customers  (Read 6940 times)

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Offline Ephiral

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Meh, I disagree.  In the most unhelpful statement ever made by anybody you should read a book I read once the name of which I can't remember.  It talked about how a load of problems in the US are caused by using legislation to settle social issues (your comment on page one about this debate being "settled in the 60s" reminded me of it) rather than a consensus being found.  But I can barely recall the details, just that reading it it seemed to make sense.

It was really interesting.  It was by some guy, and it had pages.  And a cover, IIRC.  Ask in your local bookshop, I'm sure they'll know it.
My mother worked in a bookstore for years. She would stab me for making a query like that. As to your larger issue: Exactly how are we supposed to address the tyranny of the majority, then? I am assuming that you agree that abusing a minority simply for being a minority is in fact wrong.

Well, as Louise pointed about above its pretty standard for stuff like that not to be included in a newspaper article.    The key point, to me, is that they had been coming in so long.  Why would he wake up one morning and blame them for problems - which seems to be what you're suggesting.  Isn't it rather more likely that he looked for the cause and discovered it was them (or, as Geil rightly points out, society's transphobia)
Then there should have been evidence of that - evidence which would have been much more convincing to the BOLI investigation than raw numbers with no context. The apparent absence of any attempt to put those numbers into this context shifts probabilities - given that presenting this evidence could not possibly have hurt his case and might have helped, its absence indicates that either this evidence does not exist or that he was behaving completely irrationally. Neither of these conclusions supports acting carefully based on a detailed examination of his clientele and the reason for their dissatisfaction.

Online Neysha

Under their original name, while trying to nail down the name change. You can do it yourself by Googling "P-club twilight room annex" - it's the third hit, right below the news results.

A modified query got me better results - the name change was three months after the incident, and was part of a complete restructuring of the entire place. Again, indicative that this was not the issue.

So which Yelp reviews are the ones you cited? Were they the filtered ones because all of the rest of them seem... biased due to the case.

Three Star Review:
Quote from: Steve H.
P-Club has changed their name to the Annex - Twilight Room.   Still a great little spot.  They have closed the kitchen for now.  We shoot pool out of there on Wed Night in the APA pool league.  Enjoy the atmosphere.

Five Star Review:
Quote from: Pillow F.
Great new staff & Hours of happiness. Great venue for live music. It's what the P-Club was before it was the P-club.

Five Star Review:
Quote from: Doc E.
the p-club ha an open mic every tuesday night that's amazing! it runs from 9 to midnight and the stage has some of the best sound in portland!

Two Star Review:
Quote from: Christa A.
This place is way too big for its own good. There is some amazing recreational fun to be had, 2 pool tables, 1 shuffleboard area and 2 pin ball games at your service.

However, not the best variety of beers on tap, not the best entertainment and a very interesting crowd.

I would have given four stars to the joint if they had tip-top shuffle board discs, but they don't, shit is falling apart.

Tuesdays have free bingo and I will definitely be back because I have never lived in a town that offers up free bingo.

Five Star Review
Quote from: Emilie S.
The PClub, Portsmouth Club, Portsmouth Pizza... this place has been through so many incarnations, but I think it is better now than ever.

In the past year, the PClub has become one of my favorite places for food on Lombard. They have a ridiculously cheap Happy Hour with generous portions. Everything on their menu is tasty, My favorites are the humongous nachos and a really decent variety of sandwiches.

The PClub is a very large space, probably too big. There is a stage with plenty of room for live music. They have pool tables, Stumptown Poker tourneys every Thursday, DJs

Open late 7 days/week.

Offline Kythia

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The full court report is online.  From what I gather, business on a Friday was extremely slow (for whatever reason) and the bar was looking at doing a rebrand - the one that eventually made it the twilight lounge.  He (the owner) had been told that people viewed it as a "tranny bar" and that people weren't coming in for that reason, as a result he asked the group not to come any more to remove that perception.

Offline Ephiral

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So which Yelp reviews are the ones you cited? Were they the filtered ones because all of the rest of them seem... biased due to the case.
Some were filtered, but appear to have been filtered only due to the low post-count of the reviewers, as far as I can tell - the content was certainly inoffensive and informative. One is the two-star review you yourself cited. Given this, I am forced yet again to conclude that you are not arguing in good faith, Neysha. I will not respond further to you in this thread.

Offline Blythe

The full court report is online.  From what I gather, business on a Friday was extremely slow (for whatever reason) and the bar was looking at doing a rebrand - the one that eventually made it the twilight lounge.  He (the owner) had been told that people viewed it as a "tranny bar" and that people weren't coming in for that reason, as a result he asked the group not to come any more to remove that perception.

*goes off to read full court report* This might take me a bit to get through. Hopefully I shall return after reading this and be able to discuss it properly. Thank you for the link, Kythia! ^^

Online Neysha

Some were filtered, but appear to have been filtered only due to the low post-count of the reviewers, as far as I can tell - the content was certainly inoffensive and informative. One is the two-star review you yourself cited.

So how does one review equal...

Quote from: Ephiral
A quick review of the Yelp page shows a number of low-star reviews unrelated to this issue - "too big for its own good", "boring", and "hostile clientele" show up.

I mean...  I suppose "one" is "a number" but given this, I am forced yet again to conclude that you are not arguing in good faith, Ephiral. I will proceed to respond to your posts to point it out as it occurs throughout this thread however if you continue to argue in such a manner though.

Quote from: Ephiral
Given this, I am forced yet again to conclude that you are not arguing in good faith, Neysha. I will not respond further to you in this thread.

That's more then fine with me. :)
« Last Edit: August 31, 2013, 08:03:16 PM by Neysha »

Offline Ephiral

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Quote from: Two-star review
This place is way too big for its own good. There is some amazing recreational fun to be had, 2 pool tables, 1 shuffleboard area and 2 pin ball games at your service.

However, not the best variety of beers on tap, not the best entertainment and a very interesting crowd.

I would have given four stars to the joint if they had tip-top shuffle board discs, but they don't, shit is falling apart.

Tuesdays have free bingo and I will definitely be back because I have never lived in a town that offers up free bingo.

Quote from: One-star review
BOYCOTT!!!!I will never come back here again!! lLets see how can I count all the ways this place is disgusting! The first time I came here I was approached  by 5 guys that were homophobic they were tying to start trouble and insulting me!! The staff that was working could care less about the incident that just shows how Negligence they are. Food and drink I have had better!!  So I had to leave this is not a gay friendly place at all!! Folks remember every dollar you spend is a vote you are either supporting or not supporting certain establishments.
I admit, this one might be related to the T-girls. Weight it at maybe 50%.

Quote from: Two-star review
'Rumor has it', that back in the 80s, this was a very coke-laden James Spader foil to Robert Downey Jr ("Twilight Room"), ala "Less than Zero"....

These days they play bingo and shuffleboard and serve pizza over at the P-Club. Oh brother.

Quote from: Filtered two-star review
I find what this group did to be wrong this place was not a Gay bar or a T-Girl club and as a bar owner he had every right to ask them not to come back. He might have been a little more tactful about it but he had the right to do it. I was in there 2 times and the staff was okay but some of the patrons were very rude to me so i stopped coming. A bar has it group of people and it cliental and this group of people should have found a different place and not filed this bogus discrimination claim. This group has been asked to leave two other bars and one of them was a gay bar, so i think there is more to this then what they are saying in there complaint with BOLI (Bureau of Labor and Industry). This is not a good neighborhood for the LGBT community and this bar does not want to be know as a Gay Bar and they have every right to that. So to the leader which i will not name please stop this bogus crap.
This one is extremely supportive of the owner, so I doubt its claims of "hostile clientele" that chased away a customer are intended as retaliation.

Quote from: Filtered four-star review
Ok, I am going to give this place 4 stars. Why? Because I believe it was the weirdest place I have been in a while. I think the the "P", in P-Club stands for prostitute. At least, the kinds that are over 45 and raging alcoholics. From the second we walked in we were tagged as different. Which was cool, except for all the prosty's that were convinced we we in a band. We'll when in rome, tell em you are in a band, and that band's name is "teen porn". When they ask what kind of band it is, throw out "Art punk', "bauhaus", or just plain "rock and roll".

The bathroom reeked of wee but was pretty awesome as well. I felt like I had traveled to another dimension, that this is where dreams come to die.

When we left, the prosty's wanted to see our band and were quite mad that we had decided to go next door to the "college" bar.

What a weird ass place. I am so glad that isn't my life.

P.S. Cheap beer.

All emphasis is mine. I believe my argument is now substantiated.

Offline Kythia

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Going over the court report again, it seems the lawyer for the bar is an idiot.  Frankly I'd appeal on ineffective counsel - assuming that's permitted. Doesn't change the facts of course but it seems a load of quite stupid mistakes were made.

Online Neysha

As for scoping out other reviews, Foursquare has some bemusing comments.

The Google Reviews mostly seem too old to be relevant. :(

There was one review on the Yellow Pages where an angry reviewer posted his private phone number apparently.

The local Fox 12 puts a face to the victims however.

I admit, this one might be related to the T-girls. Weight it at maybe 50%.

It'll definitely be a change of atmosphere from bouncers escorting the T-girls to their cars and inviting gay male pool players every Wednesday and having a lesbian bartender to gangs of homophobic toughs harassing and scaring off clients with impunity.

Quote
All emphasis is mine. I believe my argument is now substantiated.

Indeed it is. Hence no need for your baseless accusations of me arguing in poor faith. Like I stated before your over-reaction, I didn't have access to the filtered reviews. (or at least I'm unsure how to get access, it wasn't apparently upon 'quick review' how to do so)

Furthermore I'm not sure how the reviews (the non-filtered ones I can see anyways) can somehow show the bar in a negative light, as their average review is four stars. Maybe the unseen filtered ones are far more negative, I dunno. I just wish that when we cite Yelp reviews or other sources, we provide proper context and links and sourcing if we're only going to show a certain 'slice' of opinion. :(
« Last Edit: August 31, 2013, 08:12:01 PM by Neysha »

Offline Sabby

The fine is excessive I think. I think the customers are in the right to sue, but almost half a million? Might as well have torched his whole bar. Unless I'm grossly underestimating what a good bar can earn in a year.

Online Neysha

The fine is excessive I think. I think the customers are in the right to sue, but almost half a million? Might as well have torched his whole bar. Unless I'm grossly underestimating what a good bar can earn in a year.

Hmm well it looks like they could purchase their own bar with that much money! :D

As for running a bar, here's a CNN article of one in Detroit.

Still it seems highly variable, with annual sales ranging anywhere from 200K to a million generally. So yeah, I'm assuming $400,000 is meant to break the business, at least as far as its current ownership is concerned.

Offline gaggedLouise

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The fine is excessive I think. I think the customers are in the right to sue, but almost half a million? Might as well have torched his whole bar. Unless I'm grossly underestimating what a good bar can earn in a year.

I haven't read the verdict, but I agree with you. And with Kythia: from the look of this case, the lawyer helping the manager seems to have been an idiot.

Offline Kythia

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My particular favourite is the way he can't spell "witnesses" correctly.  That's the mark of a top notch legal mind right there.

Offline Callie Del Noire

The fine is excessive I think. I think the customers are in the right to sue, but almost half a million? Might as well have torched his whole bar. Unless I'm grossly underestimating what a good bar can earn in a year.

Particularly considering a license for one can run six figures in some areas.

Offline ThePrince

My step dad used to own a sports bar and it made about half a million a year. But that depends on demographics, location, local laws, etc.

Friday and Saturday nights are generally your busiest so I can see why it would be a problem. But the bar is still in the wrong, you can't refuse service to people on the bias that they exist.

What they should have done was talk to these ladies, explain the situation and asked them to meet on a different day.

The local Leather folk have a bar that go to each week as there isn't a Leather bar to entertain them and its a Lesbian bar. They spoke with the owner and they meet on Wednesday and miss most of the regular crowd and everyone is happy with the situation.

Offline kylie

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Quote from: Callie Del Noire
Particularly considering a license for one can run six figures in some areas.
     I don't know.  Another way of looking at it:  If someone has the means to come up with six figures to invest in the first place, then they may also have the means to pay a much smaller fine and go right on discriminating, as if nothing happened.  So if the fine is not heavy -- particularly when they are saying more or less "it's just good business" to push some people out -- why are they going to change??

    Also, they might have the credit or status such that they would prefer to simply shut down or restructure their business profile overnight (if there is something more "membership-only" that is legal), that is if they are interested in not being associated with this or that group.  Now if you think about that, then the state -- as the party interested in promoting equal access here -- is interested in making a big enough impact that the owner might wish to stay open to the general public and recoup the loss and get on with having profits in due time. 

In that scenario, there is a problem for the pursuit of equality: If the owner choses to simply fold the business or to simply reorganize in a way that excludes trans more from the get-go through a more culturally or legally accepted means, then we start running out of public establishments where they previously existed (i.e. 1. places that trans did frequent and 2. places that were supposed to be fully public on paper, if they hadn't gone and discriminated).  But the US is a largely credit-driven economy, so if they could afford that much and spent that much to set up in the first place, and they are probably making some profits as they are -- assuming the trans are not really just killing the whole place, and it has not been proven to my knowledge they are -- then that is one more public spot that may stay open and find itself interested in actually not discriminating anymore.

Offline kylie

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What they should have done was talk to these ladies, explain the situation and asked them to meet on a different day.

The local Leather folk have a bar that go to each week as there isn't a Leather bar to entertain them and its a Lesbian bar. They spoke with the owner and they meet on Wednesday and miss most of the regular crowd and everyone is happy with the situation.
     This can work in limited situations, but in this case it begs the questions:  What is it about that bar, that trans should have problems going there on a Friday night?  And what if Friday night is the one night they all have free to go out together?  Why do they have to be more inconvenienced just for being the minority?

      I don't know how the leather bar was setup or precisely what it offered that was or was not available elsewhere, and what the schedules of the people involved were like such that they could reach an agreement for weekdays...  I do think it's nice if everyone can agree on something that suits them in civil discussion.  But if people aren't all that civil in a given place, then we have to fall back on however to pursue some care for equality.

      For another example:  In a big enough city and a club with hundreds of fetish or orientation-based clientele, sure you can set aside a weekend for each group to pursue its orientation and kink because there are so very many of each of them, the club itself may be set up specifically for sex (among other often messy, highly physical if not borderline medical activities) and making a great deal of money off hefty entry fees from everyone (so even if numbers are small, they pay a whole lot), and they all agree that they don't want to see precisely what the others are doing (when it often comes down to very graphic sex of a particular flavor among other things)...

But in the case in question, I think we're talking about somewhere people go to sit with a few drinks and chat.  Maybe listen to music and play bingo.  I'm not sure if this really compares. 
 
     And then what if the preferred live band or bingo, what have you is only on Friday night? Etc.  What might the cost be of convincing a given group to come another night, if they could and were willing to?  Owners could fuss over that as a potential loss of profits, if they felt like it too... 

Offline ThePrince

The biggest difference is communication. The owner called up one of the representatives of this group and told them that he didn't want them coming back on Friday nights. As the court records show, when he did that and told them not to come back, he broke the law. He doesn't matter why he didn't want them their on Friday, when he said "I don't want you coming here on this date because you are trans." he broke the law.

What he could have done was told them that they had a new policy where they only opened up their business for social groups once a month. Thus if they decided to continue coming each Friday curtain special services may not be available. Like they may not be apple to sit them all together or they may not be seated at a large table or something else. As long as the bar wasn't favoring other groups over the T-Girls this would be legal. Also the court documents noted that the T-Girls original bar had ask them only to show up once a month and they decided to change to bars. So maybe just asking them to show up once a month is legal, I'am not sure.

On a side note Leather bars are/where generally private places and thus they could allow who ever they choose into their domains. If they had to be public they would usually schedule dates where only Leather people would be allowed.

Offline Ephiral

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Also the court documents noted that the T-Girls original bar had ask them only to show up once a month and they decided to change to bars. So maybe just asking them to show up once a month is legal, I'am not sure.
This one is actually easy to explain in two different ways. Either a) they decided at that time that it wasn't worth pursuing legal action, but changed their minds when they saw a pattern forming, or b) as at least one source indicates, they had been going to the P-club for four years when they were asked to leave - in 2012. The Oregon Equality Act came into force in 2008.

Offline lilhobbit37

While I understand why the trans* community is up in arms at this, I feel that there is a lot of behind the scenes information, especially based on some of the reviews and comments that have been sourced. That perhaps it was more than "These are trans* people therefore I don't want them here."

I've seen in more than one public establishment either a sign or a message on a menu that they have the right to deny service for any reason. A belligerent customer therefore could be asked to leave rather than the establishment being forced to serve them.

From the sounds of some of the comments, these customers may have been creating a disturbance when they arrived.

If you went to a gay bar and 1/2 the bar was filled with straight couples who were quite happy with making those not straight uncomfortable, would it be wrong for the lgbt customers to be offended? Or is it only ok if it's a minority?

If these customers were doing something out of the ordinary, or getting drunk and out of control, or whatever, then the owner had a right to ask them to leave, regardless of their orientation or identities.

I am very curious about the fact that another bar asked them to stop coming, and they didn't sue that bar. Why is this bar different? Why did they leave the other establishment and find a new bar, without feeling that owner should lose his business, yet would close this bar down for doing the same, except not saying once a month? Is it not the same thing except that one owner was more focused on sounding nice while politely asking them not to return, while the other spoke plainly on the issue?

Edit: Also did it say anywhere why the first bar asked them to only come once a month? Was it for the same reasoning as this bar or for different reasons? I am wondering if it is the fact that they are trans* or if maybe their behavior is a problem, and it just happens that they are trans*.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 01:06:55 AM by lilhobbit37 »

Offline Kythia

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This one is actually easy to explain in two different ways. Either a) they decided at that time that it wasn't worth pursuing legal action, but changed their minds when they saw a pattern forming, or b) as at least one source indicates, they had been going to the P-club for four years when they were asked to leave - in 2012. The Oregon Equality Act came into force in 2008.

2010 according to the court report.  (a) is still an option though.

Offline Slywyn

If you went to a gay bar and 1/2 the bar was filled with straight couples who were quite happy with making those not straight uncomfortable, would it be wrong for the lgbt customers to be offended? Or is it only ok if it's a minority?

I think this is part of the problem. The fact that they're trans* should not, in and of itself, be part of the problem. This is why anti-discrimination laws exist in the first place. The owner should not have the right to kick them out 'because they're making the 'straight' customers uncomfortable by being trans*'. That's discrimination. That's what the laws are in place to prevent.

Yes it's 'okay if it's a minority' because noone is going to go "Well straight/white/male/etc people make me uncomfortable, I'm not going to that bar any more"

Offline Geil

One point I've not seen mentioned here: on the scale of the fine and whether the law is balanced in that respect or not, is that the fine was not $400,000 for discriminating against a trans person, it was somewhere between $20,000 and $50,000 - which does seem to me more like a balanced figure that will hurt a business's pocket and not immediately close it down.

This bar owner, however, discriminated against eleven people at the same time, and so has to pay eleven separate compensations. Hence the headline figure is the sum of all those smaller parts and is an order of magnitude higher than might be expected.

Offline Kythia

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That's a rather academic distinction though isn't it. It was one act he took, granted an act that affected multiple people, but he still only did one thing and is being landed with a massive fine.

Offline Slywyn

That's a rather academic distinction though isn't it. It was one act he took, granted an act that affected multiple people, but he still only did one thing and is being landed with a massive fine.

To take the argument to an extreme, someone murders someone by shooting them. It was only one act, and yeah it affected multiple people, but it was only one thing. And they're hit with massive jail time or even death.

It was one act, but it was one act that affected many people. And they're not part of a family or other 'group' that can collectively 'partake' of the funds. Each person has their own settlement with the guy.

It's just like multiple people suing a bus company for an accident. One crash, one 'act', affects multiple people and they each get a settlement. It's not that strange of an occurrence.