On Wednesday, the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld a fine of $400,000 awarded to a group of transgender customers who were banned from a bar in Portland, Oregon.
Penalties were initially levied by the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries in 2013 after the patrons filed a complaint in 2012 against Chris Penner, the owner of a bar called the P Club. One of the transgender patrons told the state that the bar owner left a message on his phone informing him that he and his group were no longer allowed to patronize the bar.
“People are not coming in because they just don’t want to be there on a Friday night now,” the bar owner reportedly said in one message to the customer. “In the beginning sales were doing fine, but they’ve been on a steady decrease so I have to look at what the problem is, what the reason is and take care of it.”
The group of transgender patrons belonged to a group they called the Rose City T-Girls.
The attorney defending the bar owner said his client had a right to safeguard his business.
“Originally, the Rose City T-Girls approached his business and asked if this is going to be a problem and they said, ‘No.'” the bar owner’s attorney Jonathan Radmacher said. “In essence, he was going back to them and saying, ‘This is a problem for my business.’ We think he’s got a constitutional right to make that inquiry.”
The court, though, disagreed with the claims by the defense and ruled that the bar owner discriminated against the patrons on the basis of their sexual identities.
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