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Monday, July 4, 2011

EEOC Sues Houston Strip Club Over Alleged Discrimination

HOUSTON -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing a southwest Houston strip club for alleged discrimination.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday against Michael's International, which is located in the 6400 block of the Southwest Freeway.

It states that in September of 2007 a group of African-American waitresses were told they could not work at the club.

“Regardless of the business you are in, the law is the law and you can't discriminate against people because of their race,” said Timothy Bowne of the Houston office of the U.S. EEOC.

The trouble came when Bert Stair, who is a vice president of Michael’s, was visiting the club from Dallas.

"Houston managers said that Stair did not like African-American waitresses and dancers in his club," according to the lawsuit.

Specifically, the waitresses said that they were asked to leave work or hide in a back room.

"To at least one of these waitresses he used the ‘N’ word and said, ‘What are you doing here? We don't want anymore of these ‘N’s working here, we have too many of these ‘N's here already," said Timothy Bowne, the senior trial attorney on the case for the EEOC.

There is no official comment from Michael's about the lawsuit but a manager said he was shocked by the lawsuit because the club now markets itself as multi-racial.

What is happening inside now does not get the club off the hook for past actions, especially ones that make no sense to government attorneys like Bowne.

"There is even less of a reason to believe that the clientele would be bothered by their race if the entertainment that they came to see was the dancers, and not the waitresses," he said.

The EEO said it tried to settle the claims before going to court but said the club and its parent company have refused to cooperate.

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