Debate Continues Over 4th Street Live Dress Code Enforcement
By Connie Leonard
(LOUISVILLE) -- Last week, Jefferson Circuit Judge Anne O'Malley Shake directed 4th Street Live's Red Cheetah and Parrot Beach bars to "publish their dress codes" and "apply the rules equally to blacks and whites." On Monday, the Louisville Urban League held a public forum on the issue. WAVE 3 Investigator Connie Leonard was there.
The judge's ruling came after two black males filed a lawsuit claiming they were humiliated after being refused entrance into the clubs. They claimed they were in collared shirts and dress pants and believe they were refused because of their race.
"It's an old issue, we've been fighting this issue for quite a long time," said Nikki McCommer Johnson, who lives close to 4th Street Live!
The entertainment complex has had its share of dress code complaints, from original problems with kids in jerseys to the latest -- a lawsuit claiming discrimination.
Keith Hunter, the attorney who filed the suit last week told the crowd at the forum: "This is not going away, I can assure you that."
Hunter represents two African American men who were denied access to 4th street's Red Cheetah and Parrot Beach. The men claimed they were dressed more appropriately than several young white men who were allowed inside.
The judge immediately ordered the clubs to post dress codes and stop discrimination of any kind. Folks hoping to see a change spoke out at the forum.
One speaker asked: "Is the dress code being enforced arbitrarily or are African Americans being denied entrance because of the cultural issue of the dress code?"
A woman claiming to be a former 4th Street Live! employee told the group that's exactly the problem. "I've seen people turned away," she said. "Their pants are too long or the shirt was out -- really small things, that are part of our culture.
4th Street Live! representatives say the entertainment complex is getting a bad rap because the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit got into the 4th Street entrance, and they say they can't help it if it's later proven that Red Cheetah and Parrot Beach didn't follow the rules.
Mike Leonard, a 4th Street Live! representative who attended the meeting, told reporters: "The allegations are with the tenant, not 4th Street Live! We tolerate no discrimination, zero tolerance on discrimination."
And in a phone interview from Baltimore, 4th Street's Zed Smith had this to say: "In this case, it appears or it was alleged they may have broken the law here."
Speaking of the two nightclubs, Smith added: "Sometimes it comes down to judgment, and they may have used the wrong judgment. "
But, several people like Johnson attending the meeting say it's more than just the two tenants, and she claims her family knows firsthand. "My cousin was in town and she and a friend went down there he was denied entrance because of that situation, his shorts were considered too long."
Although other people at the meeting said they had also been denied access at the 4th street live entrance, Zed Smith told us that the entertainment complex has had 4 million people visit in the past year, and not one complaint about the dress code or discrimination in that time.
Smith says the issue is now in the hands of the courts, and if it's determined any nightclubs broke the law, they may decide to break their lease with them.
As for the lawsuit, another hearing is scheduled for August 25.
Friday, May 24 2013 7:15 AM EDT2013-05-24 11:15:11 GMT
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