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Author Topic: Oregon bar owner fined $400,000 for discriminating against transgender customers  (Read 6917 times)

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Offline Imogen

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.

And even more academic because one of the reasons he felt compelled to this act was because it happened to be this -group- that drove other customers away.




Offline Kythia

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I'm not saying its a strange occurrence.  What I am saying is that he took one action and got a fine, how precisely that fine is made up is not overly relevant.

Offline Imogen

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.

I'll take that analogy.

So we have this group of people wanting to get on the bus. They usually take a different bus but that one doesn't give as frequent service. So, they're on this bus...and over time, that bus has fewer and fewer passengers. The owner learns that this group in his bus keeps the other passengers away. He still needs to pay for gas, insurance, etc. He can't afford keeping that group in his bus. So he asks them to take a different bus in the future and he is foolish/honest enough to give the reason behind his request.

So, does this group say 'thank you for driving us this long"? No, they sue him for a huge amount of money.

Damned if you do nothing, damned if you are upfront. Lesson learned? Don't be honest with these people.

Offline Geil

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.
Can I go into a shop, take eleven bottles of whisky off the shelf, and only pay for one of them? I think not.

Anyway, the report seems to say that the fine was $5,000. The rest was compensation/damages, and one person's damage isn't affected by whether someone else suffered at the same time.

Offline Kythia

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But if you do go into a shop and take eleven bottles of whiskey, would you expect eleven shoplifting charges or just one?

Offline Imogen

Can I go into a shop, take eleven bottles of whisky off the shelf, and only pay for one of them? I think not.

Anyway, the report seems to say that the fine was $5,000. The rest was compensation/damages, and one person's damage isn't affected by whether someone else suffered at the same time.

They suffered 20-40k worth of trauma because of a voicemail asking them not to come to the club because people have problems with their being transgender? While having a support group of 11 eleven people? Wow!

And it's not the bigots who stay away that get fined but the unfortunate messenger whose business is run into the ground because - unfortunately - a lot of people are still ignorant and stupid?

Yeah, this looks way out there.

Discrimination should be punished, but there were TWO victims of discrimination here, and the real perpetrator(if there was any) was the customer base that decided to not frequent this place anymore. And even that is shady ground. If I have to choose between visiting a bar or a bar that specifically has a reputation to cater to a gay/transgender audience I might visit the second place every now and then, but as I'd feel I might be out of place there, odds are that I'd choose no. 1.

Offline Geil

But if you do go into a shop and take eleven bottles of whiskey, would you expect eleven shoplifting charges or just one?
I suppose I'd expect one charge, but any damages would be proportional to the ten unpaid for bottles.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 03:26:16 AM by Geil »

Offline Blythe

I'll take that analogy.

So we have this group of people wanting to get on the bus. They usually take a different bus but that one doesn't give as frequent service. So, they're on this bus...and over time, that bus has fewer and fewer passengers. The owner learns that this group in his bus keeps the other passengers away. He still needs to pay for gas, insurance, etc. He can't afford keeping that group in his bus. So he asks them to take a different bus in the future and he is foolish/honest enough to give the reason behind his request.

So, does this group say 'thank you for driving us this long"? No, they sue him for a huge amount of money.

Damned if you do nothing, damned if you are upfront. Lesson learned? Don't be honest with these people.

That analogy you provide in return to Slywyn does not hold up unless the aspect of the group keeping people away is a behavior that can be changed. If it is an intrinsic aspect of the group keeping people away, then the bus owner is literally assuming that the nature of what that group is (not what they are choosing to do) happens to be keeping people away.

Give a name to the group in your analogy. If you selected an ethnicity for the group in your example, say...the group was Hispanic and they were asked to leave because "people believe this bus is for Hispanic people," then that bus driver would be discriminating on the grounds of race. And yes, then they can sue. Possibly for a lot of money. *shrugs*

Replace "Hispanic" with "transgender" and "bus" with "club," and you have the P-club scenario, which was discrimination based on gender orientation, an intrinsic trait. 

It is not up to a customer to help a business market their image to convince more customers to go to a business. It is up to a business to successfully market themselves. That's why I don't care for any arguments that rely on "well, they can just go somewhere else." It essentially holds customers liable for a business' marketing. The club owner revamped the entire club image, I noticed. He was unable to correlate his loss in sales to the T-girls' presence, so...I don't know...maybe it was because his business simply needed to be marketed properly and handled better?

I will say this...if the club owner had been able to substantiate that unruly or unwarranted behavior from the T-girls was what drove off business (which he was unable to), then he would have been within his rights to ask them to leave....not based on their transgender status, but based on their behavior. But that wasn't the case in the voicemail he left them. He asked them to leave because he didn't want to be seen as a tranny bar, and honestly? That's not his customers' fault. He had other customers, and he was well-known as having an LGBT friendly establishment according to the court documents.....so why was he suddenly objecting to the T aspect of that equation? It makes no sense. As a business owner, he can ask unruly customers to leave. If there was a problem with their behavior, he should have asked them to leave based on that, not the "tranny bar" complaint he left in a voicemail to one of the T-girls named Cass.

But he didn't.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 03:23:43 AM by Blythe »

Offline Geil

They suffered 20-40k worth of trauma because of a voicemail asking them not to come to the club because people have problems with their being transgender? While having a support group of 11 eleven people? Wow!
Compensation culture! * shrugs * I don't particularly like it either, but if the culture of law suits and damages is there, you can't exclude trans people from using it!

Quote
And it's not the bigots who stay away that get fined but the unfortunate messenger whose business is run into the ground because - unfortunately - a lot of people are still ignorant and stupid?

Yeah, this looks way out there.

Discrimination should be punished, but there were TWO victims of discrimination here, and the real perpetrator(if there was any) was the customer base that decided to not frequent this place anymore.
Yup - exactly what I put in my first post on this. The laws can only do as much as laws can do, and you can't prosecute someone for not doing something right, only for doing something wrong.

Offline Florence

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"

I think more to the point, if straight people are IN a gay bar, its probably safe to assume they're not the sort of straight people that would make gay costumers uncomfortable. And if they ARE causing trouble by DOING THINGS that make the gay costumers feel uncomfortable (making homophobic remarks, guys trying to pick up lesbians, etc.) then yeah, kick them out if they're causing trouble. But their simple presence should not be a problem.

Likewise, if these transgender people were doing things that specifically made other costumers uncomfortable (existing not counting), then I could see grounds for their removal. Of course, that really boils down to what they did. I mean, we live in a world where wearing the wrong color shirt can make someone else uncomfortable. I simply object to them being removed if being transgender was the only reason it happened.

Gawd, every tiome I try to post there's a new reply. Busy thread tonight?

Offline Imogen

That analogy you provide in return to Slywyn does not hold up unless the aspect of the group keeping people away is a behavior that can be changed. If it is in intrinsic aspect of the group keeping people away, then the bus owner is literally assuming that the nature of what that group is (not what they are choosing to do) happens to be keeping people away.

Give a name to the group in your analogy. If you selected an ethnicity for the group in your example, say...the group was Hispanic and they were asked to leave because "people believe this bus is for Hispanic people," then that bus driver would be discriminating on the grounds of race. And yes, then they can sue. Possibly for a lot of money. *shrugs*

Replace "Hispanic" with "transgender" and "bus" with "club," and you have the P-club scenario, which was discrimination based on gender orientation, an intrinsic trait. 

It is not up to a customer to help a business market their image to convince more customers to go to a business. It is up to a business to successfully market themselves. That's why I don't care for any arguments that rely on "well, they can just go somewhere else." It holds customers liable for a business' marketing. The club owner revamped the entire club image, I noticed. He was unable to correlate his loss in sales to the T-girls' presence, so...I don't know...maybe it was because his business simply needed to be marketed properly and handled better?

I will say this...if the club owner had been able to substantiate that unruly or unwarranted behavior from the T-girls was what drove off business (which he was unable to), then he would have been within his rights to ask them to leave....not based on their transgender status, but based on their behavior. But that wasn't the case in the voicemail he left them. He asked them to leave because he didn't want to be seen as a tranny bar, and honestly? That's not his customers' fault. He had other customers, and he was well-known as an LGBT friendly establishment according to the court documents.....so why was he suddenly objecting to the T aspect of that equation? It makes no sense. As a business owner, he can ask unruly customers to leave. If there was a problem with their behavior, he should have asked them to leave based on that. But he didn't.


Quote
Give a name to the group in your analogy. If you selected an ethnicity for the group in your example, say...the group was Hispanic and they were asked to leave because "people believe this bus is for Hispanic people," then that bus driver would be discriminating on the grounds of race. And yes, then they can sue. Possibly for a lot of money. *shrugs*

I don't care if they were gypsy, hispanic, transgender or Dutch. If a group is a cause for decline of someone's business -whether this is their fault or not-, he should have a right to ask them to stay away. And as far as I can tell from the documents he asked it politely. He even gave a reason why his customers stayed away. In my point of view, that manager had -no- choice at all.

Discrimation is against the law, but what the T-girls pulled here goes against sense of justice I have. They may not have acted against the law but they acted against any form of common courtesy and respect to someone who -till that moment- was known as friendly to them and theirs.

Offline Blythe

Compensation culture! * shrugs * I don't particularly like it either, but if the culture of law suits and damages is there, you can't exclude trans people from using it!

I can agree I'm not a fan of compensation culture either. *nod*

Hmmm, but that does make me think about the money:

I will admit I'm not sure $400,000 was a fair amount. After reading the court documents, Penner (the P-club owner) perhaps should have considered appealing, because it does seem like his lawyer was....not the smartest guy. I doubt $400,000 was strictly necessary or warranted. A much smaller amount still would have gotten the point across without such a harsh penalty on the business (the T-girls did have some good experiences there, after all, that they did talk about....it seems that Penner's voicemail asking them to leave about the "tranny bar" thing was what the stickler of the whole incident was).


I don't care if they were gypsy, hispanic, transgender or Dutch. If a group is a cause for decline of someone's business -whether this is their fault or not-, he should have a right to ask them to stay away. And as far as I can tell from the documents he asked it politely. He even gave a reason why his customers stayed away. In my point of view, that manager had -no- choice at all.

Discrimation is against the law, but what the T-girls pulled here goes against sense of justice I have. They may not have acted against the law but they acted against any form of common courtesy and respect to someone who -till that moment- was known as friendly to them and theirs.


I'm not sure a statement saying "discrimination is against the law" included after saying an owner can ask any "group" to leave is....logical. What that does seem to advocate is discrimination against a group.  :-\

What a business owner has the right to do is ask individuals to leave, so long as that owner asks within the confines of the law. Penner was not within the confines of the 2007 Oregon Equality Act. Business owners do not have the right to single out groups based on sex, gender, race, etc. as a basis for denying them entry into their establishments (and yes, that includes saying 'my business isn't doing well because group X exists here').

However....as I do not know enough about the history between the T-girls and Penner, I cannot reasonably make any statements about the T-girls' respect or courtesy. All I know from the evidence I've read is that Penner was unable to prove he did not discriminate against them, and the T-girls were able to prove to the satisfaction of the court that he did.


I would like to add that if I am stepping on any toes, my apologies. This is not my intent in the slightest.  :-\

Offline Imogen

Compensation culture! * shrugs * I don't particularly like it either, but if the culture of law suits and damages is there, you can't exclude trans people from using it!
Nope, you can't. But claiming they're on moral high ground is something else entirely.

Quote
Yup - exactly what I put in my first post on this. The laws can only do as much as laws can do, and you can't prosecute someone for not doing something right, only for doing something wrong.

Yep. That guy's business was doomed either way. At least now 11 T-girls can gloat and count their profit. Gawd, they'll be so loved in the next bar they'll visit. I hope for the owners of bars in that city they'll choose a well established LGBT friendly place, catering primarily to that minority.


Offline Imogen

Quote
I'm not sure a statement saying "discrimination is against the law" included after saying an owner can ask any "group" to leave is....logical. What that does seem to advocate is discrimination against a group.

If he has no other reason than this group being of said origin/religion/whatever. It could be a knitting club for all care. IF that was the reason, I would agree.

That, however, was not the case. The reason was that their being such and such was detrimental to his business. Not by any fault of theirs. Or his. But there you have it.

Offline Blythe

If he has no other reason than this group being of said origin/religion/whatever. It could be a knitting club for all care. IF that was the reason, I would agree.

That, however, was not the case. The reason was that their being such and such was detrimental to his business. Not by any fault of theirs. Or his. But there you have it.

In other words, you just said the fact they were a certain group was the reason Penner believed them detrimental to his business. In other words, he singled them out specifically because they were transgender.

It should be kept in mind that Penner was not able to substantiate that his loss in sales was due specifically to the T-girls. What that means, to me, is that arguments made based on the fact the T-girls were supposedly harming his business are not valid. That was simply not proven. I don't think that Penner or any other business owner should be able to make claims like that and use them as excuses to make customers leave without backing those claims up....and genuinely feel an owner does not have a good reason to bar entire groups from a business for existing (the effects of them being there on other customers, so long as it is not a behavioral issue, is not the fault of the group being singled out).

I also think that if he believes his ruling to be unfair (and the only reason I could see it as such is the whopper of a fine he got, which admittedly is really large to me, not anything else about the case), he should appeal...with a better lawyer.


EDIT: Ah, and I am a little tired and getting rambling and carried away. Apologies to any I might have confused or upset, and I wish all of you nothing but the best as you debate this controversial topic.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 04:08:46 AM by Blythe »

Offline Imogen

In other words, you just said the fact they were a certain group was the reason Penner believed them detrimental to his business. In other words, he singled them out specifically because they were transgender.

It should be kept in mind that Penner was not able to substantiate that his loss in sales was due specifically to the T-girls. What that means, to me, is that arguments made based on the fact the T-girls were supposedly harming his business are not valid. That was simply not proven. I don't think that Penner or any other business owner should be able to make claims like that and use them as excuses to make customers leave without backing those claims up.

I also think that if he believes his ruling to be unfair (and the only reason I could see it as such is the whopper of a fine he got, which admittedly is really large to me, not anything else about the case), he should appeal...with a better lawyer.


EDIT: Ah, and I am a little tired and getting rambling and carried away. Apologies to any I might have confused or upset, and I wish all of you nothing but the best as you debate this controversial topic.

What other reasons would he have if not financial? It was stated above he was LGBT-friendly.
Quote
In other words, you just said the fact they were a certain group was the reason Penner believed them detrimental to his business. In other words, he singled them out specifically because they were transgender.


No, he singled them out because he believed they were detrimental to his business.

They were transgender. Others had a problem with that. They stayed away. His business declines.

Transgender -> stupid people have problem with that and stay away -> income declines -> manager asks group to leave.

Is that discrimination? If you go down the entire line, and just look at the final result and the first catalyst, you may be inclined to reason this is so.. But before we draw that conclusion lets look at that sequence again and leave that last bit out.. Still the same sequence.

Transgender -> stupid people have problem with that and stay away -> income declines.

Ergo, Transgender people are responsible for declines in income. (just going by that same reasoning, which I am NOT advocating)

Offline Tamhansen

As much as I am for the principle that business owners should be allowed to ban customers costing him business, I'd wager that if the man was running a bar where the majority of the patrons were racist, and he'd bar a group of Black or Jewish people for that reason he'd still be fined.

The transgenders saw an opportunity to profit from this bar owner's choice and ran with it. As happens way to often in these claim cultures. Most likely some ambulance chaser Lionel Hutz convinced the jury these people were now scarred for life, and the sheep blindly gave out the money. After all it's not their business that is now ruined is it.

Offline Blythe

Most likely some ambulance chaser Lionel Hutz convinced the jury these people were now scarred for life, and the sheep blindly gave out the money.

Kythia provided a link to the actual court document about this case in this thread. There is literally no need to make the statement you just did; I believe you should consider reading the link she provided and provide more informed commentary than this.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 04:42:23 AM by Blythe »

Offline Tamhansen

okay so I missed one tiny link among all this. Get a life or something.

After reading the court transcript, my actual point remains. They smelled money and went for it. Not saying they are bad for it, just a product of the culture in which they live. That it was a judge instead of a jury handing out the money really doesn't change my point. 400 grand divided by eleven people that's 35k each.


Offline Blythe

okay so I missed one tiny link among all this. Get a life or something.

After reading the court transcript, my actual point remains. They smelled money and went for it. Not saying they are bad for it, just a product of the culture in which they live. That it was a judge instead of a jury handing out the money really doesn't change my point. 400 grand divided by eleven people that's 35k each.

Except the T-girls did not receive 35K each. The amounts were divided according to how much suffering, etc. each person had/could have proved. So not every T-girl received the same amount, if my knowledge is correct.

Please be civil, Katataban. Telling me to "get a life or something" does not further this discussion.

Also, to Imogen--I will try to respond to your point when I am more awake, I promise. Thank you for some courteous PMs exchanged with me, and thank you for debating and chatting with me.  :-)
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 05:18:11 AM by Blythe »

Offline Imogen

Except the T-girls did not receive 35K each. The amounts were divided according to how much suffering, etc. each person had/could have proved. So not every T-girl received the same amount.

Please be civil, Katataban. Telling me to "get a life or something" does not further this discussion.

Also, to Imogen--I will try to respond to your point when I am more awake, I promise. Thank you for some courteous PMs exchanged with me, and thank you for debating and chatting with me.  :-)

Thank you, Blythe! I enjoy(ed) the PMs and the debate :-) Sweet dreams!

Offline Tamhansen

I just responded in kind Blythe that is all. If you expect civility, then first grant it.

And true it wasn't evenly divided, so I should have said Average of 35k each. Still a lot of money

Offline Blythe

I just responded in kind Blythe that is all. If you expect civility, then first grant it.

And true it wasn't evenly divided, so I should have said Average of 35k each. Still a lot of money

Please state where I have been uncivil, and you will receive an apology, assuming I was uncivil. I merely pointed out a link you had not read and asked you to consider making comments in light of that information, which was not uncivil. It was a reasonable request, Katataban, made in good faith. So I have granted civility in this topic.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 05:24:25 AM by Blythe »

Offline Tamhansen

it's a nice speech Blythe, but you know what. I'm not falling for it. You attacked me, I attacked you back. Simple matter. Now if you wanna feel all indignant about it, that's your problem, I'd rather go back to the topic at hand.

Offline Blythe

it's a nice speech Blythe, but you know what. I'm not falling for it. You attacked me, I attacked you back. Simple matter. Now if you wanna feel all indignant about it, that's your problem, I'd rather go back to the topic at hand.

Asking you to make a more informed comment in light of information you had not read is not an attack. I do not understand why you perceive it to be such.