State investigators say local bar is discriminating against - KPTV - FOX 12

State investigators say local bar is discriminating against transgenders

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Civil rights investigators found evidence of discrimination against transgendered customers at a North Portland club, that's according to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.

BOLI has concluded its investigations into Portland's Twilight Room Annex, formerly known as the P-Club.

BOLI said the bar's owner, Chris Penner, sought to keep a group of transgender patrons out of the establishment based on their gender identity.

"No place of public accommodations in Oregon is going to be allowed to discriminate based on gender identity," said BOLI Commissioner Brad Avakian.

The group known as the Rose City T-Girls filed a claim with BOLI back in August after they said Penner left a voicemail on a member's phone asking them to stay away.

"It was really hurtful, to be told you can't go somewhere because of who you are and how you dress," said Rose City T-Girl member Susan Miller.

After months of looking into the T-Girls claim, BOLI said the evidence against bar Penner is substantial. 

"It means a lot to the group, to me personally, and I think it should be helpful to everyone," said T-Girls member Victoria Nolan.

State investigators found evidence confirming that Penner left phone messages asking the T-Girls to stop visiting the P-Club, because they were allegedly harming business by creating a perception that it is a "tranny bar."

BOLI said Penner never notified the T-Girls of any complaints about their behavior, and never took any steps to remove any members causing problems. Instead, he tried to exclude them and that is unlawful discrimination, according to investigators.

"I'm happy that the state moved on this rapidly, and it is fantastic that they took the law and went after the ones that broke the law," said T-Girls member Cristine Burnett.

Penner had no comment on BOLI's findings, but his lawyer Jonathan Radmacher issued this statement to FOX 12 on his behalf:

"BOLI's decision is surprising. Apparently, they didn't speak to any of the third-party witnesses that we provided them with, who support our view that the Rose City T-Girls were a wild bunch who were basically taking over the bar. From my perspective, it sounds like BOLI wanted a press release, more than it wanted to reach a reasonable settlement."

BOLI said now that the investigation is complete, absent the settlement of the case, the next step in the process will be the issuance of formal charges.

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