Strip Club Sued for Refusing to Hire Male Bartender

EEOC also charges Florida club with failure to maintain job applications

By Roy Maurer Jul 10, 2017
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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued a Florida strip club for sex discrimination after it refused to hire men for bartender positions.

According to the EEOC complaint, Gold Inc., doing business as Sammy's Gentlemen's Club in Fort Walton Beach, violated federal law by declining to hire a male applicant because of his gender and by failing to maintain federally required employment records.

[SHRM members-only presentation: Federal Discrimination Laws]

On Oct. 5, 2015, James Sharp tried to apply for a position as a bartender at Sammy's after seeing an online ad. Sharp, an experienced bartender, applied in person, when the manager allegedly told him that Sammy's did not hire male bartenders. Sammy's subsequently hired at least two women for bartending positions at that location.

According to the lawsuit, Sammy's employed 17 women and no men in bartending positions at its Fort Walton Beach location the year that Sharp applied.

Such alleged conduct, the EEOC argued, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants because of gender.

"The effect of the practices … has been to deprive Sharp of equal employment opportunities because of his sex," the complaint said.

The agency seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief to prevent further discrimination.

"Although sex-based discrimination against women may be more common than against men, employers must realize that no person, male or female, can be denied employment based on sex, except in the rare instances when gender is a bona fide occupational qualification," said Marsha L. Rucker, an EEOC attorney based in Birmingham, Ala.

The EEOC also charged that the company violated Title VII by failing to maintain copies of employment applications and other records.

The complaint said the club had "failed … to make and preserve records relevant to the determination of whether unlawful employment practices have been or are being committed. Records which defendant has unlawfully failed to retain include … employment applications, including applications and/or resumes of male applicants."

It was the club's practice to destroy the applications of people who did not advance beyond an interview, according to the complaint.

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