Investigators said there is substantial evidence that a Portland bar tried to keep a group of transgender customers away based on their gender identity.
The owner of the P Club and his attorney disagree.
The Civil Rights Division of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries launched an investigation in August of the P Club on North Lombard. A transgender woman said the owner left a message on her phone asking that her group not come back to the bar on Friday nights.
They had gotten together at the P Club on Friday nights for two years, she said.
State investigators reported the phone message from owner Chris Penner said the group was harming business by creating a perception that the P Club is a "tranny bar."
BOLI said Penner accused the group, known as the Rose City T-Girls, of being disruptive and generating complaints from other customers. Investigators said those claims were unsupported by interviews with P Club employees and customers.
Jonathan Radmacher, the attorney for Penner, released a statement Wednesday. He said BOLI's decision was surprising because investigators did not speak to any of the third party witnesses they provided.
Radmacher said their view is that the Rose City T-Girls "were a wild raucous bunch who were basically taking over the bar."
The agency's letter of determination in the case concludes that no concerns were ever raised to the group, even in phone messages from Penner.
"The P Club never notified the T-Girls of any complaints about their behavior and never took any steps to remove allegedly troublesome individuals," said BOLI Commissioner Brad Avakian. "Blocking the entire group from visiting the P Club in reaction to rumors that the establishment 'is a tranny bar' is an overreaction, is unfair and is on its face unlawful discrimination."
Radmacher said they were advised to contact a BOLI representative to work out a settlement, but when they did, BOLI did not have any proposal for conciliation.
"From my perspective, it sounds like BOLI wanted a press release more than it wanted to reach a 'reasonable settlement,'" Radmacher said.
With the civil rights division's investigation complete, absent settlement of the case, the next step in the process will be the issuance of formal charges and a notice of hearing by BOLI's administrative prosecution unit.
Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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