If ever there was a business establishment in the District where race was least likely to matter, you’d think it would be a sports bar. Among die-hard fans, the color of your jersey tends to trump the color of your skin.
But D.C. was changing, becoming more gentrified. And on this burnished social landscape, a different kind of sports bar — one more upscale — opened in 2010, near the Verizon Center arena downtown.
To attract the right kind of clientele, owner Mick Dadlani needed the staffers at his new bar, called Redline, to project a certain look. A white look, with bartenders and servers who were young, blond women.
In unabashed pursuit of that vision, Dadlani fired a black bartender, Briggitta Hardin, who had been hired without his knowledge. So she sued him for racial discrimination. And last month, on Jan. 21, a federal jury in the District rendered a verdict in Hardin’s favor and voted unanimously to award her $687,000 in damages.
“The case is important because it acknowledges that this kind of blatant discrimination still happens, even in places that have a diversity of people,” said Megan Cacace, a lawyer with Relman, Dane & Colfax in Washington and the leader of Hardin’s legal team.
Had Dadlani been just a tad more subtle, however, he might have gotten away with creating the look he wanted.
During the recession, equal employment opportunity almost seemed to lose its status as a civil right. Racial disparities in income and employment widened dramatically, no longer requiring the complicity of some racist ogre but smoothly perpetuated through an economic system geared to produce inequality.
Hardin’s encounter with Dadlani was like meeting the ogre, a Jim Crow incarnate.
“She introduced herself and extended her hand for the owner to shake, but he would not shake her hand or speak; he just turned and walked away,” Cacace said. “Ms. Hardin testified that he had a look of disgust, as if she had spit on her outstretched hand.”
Source: The Washington Post | Courtland Milloy