Oregon's labor commissioner has filed formal charges of unlawful discrimination against a north Portland bar.
The investigation into the Twilight Room Annex, formerly known as the P Club, began last August. The Bureau of Labor and Industries said the bar's owner, Chris Penner, left phone messages asking a group of transgender customers to stop visiting his business.
The group, known as the Rose City T-Girls, said they had been going to the P Club on Friday nights for two years.
State investigators said the phone message from Penner said the group was harming business by creating a perception that the P Club is a "tranny bar."
In an interview with Fox 12 in August 2012, Penner said he has gay employees and added that customers who are racist or homophobic are kicked out of the bar.
Penner's attorney, Jonathan Radmacher, later released a statement saying the Rose City T-Girls "were a raucous bunch who were basically taking over the bar."
"It sounds like BOLI wanted a press release more than it wanted to reach a 'reasonable settlement,'" Radmacher said in October.
Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian said Tuesday there was no evidence the transgender customers disrupted business. He also Penner failed to notify the group about any complaints regarding their behavior.
After the two sides failed to reach a settlement during the investigation, Avakian moved forward with formal charges.
"Business owners cannot discriminate against patrons based on gender identity," said Avakian in a statement Tuesday. "Our agency will use its full spectrum of tools to make sure that businesses follow the law, including filing commissioner's complaints when there may be barriers to individuals filing themselves."
The charges against the P Club are the first commissioner's complaint filed under the 2007 Oregon Equality Act.
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