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03.25.2020

Relman Colfax has filed a federal public accommodations lawsuit alleging that Varsity Tavern, one of the largest bars in Fort Worth, has refused admission to African American patrons because of their race.

The firm represents Stephen Acheampong, who visited Fort Worth on spring break when he was a student in a pre-medical program. Mr. Acheampong, who is black, was twice turned away from Varsity Tavern for alleged dress code violations, while white patrons were admitted wearing the same clothing. On one occasion, Mr. Acheampong was told he couldn’t enter Varsity Tavern because he was wearing Air Jordan sneakers. Mr. Acheampong and a white friend switched shoes, so that the white friend was wearing the Air Jordans. They returned to the bar, and the white friend was let into the bar without any issue. Mr. Acheampong, now wearing boat shoes, was also admitted.  Once inside the bar they switched shoes back. A bouncer then told Mr. Acheampong to leave because he was wearing Air Jordans in the bar.

Varsity Tavern has been the subject of commentary on public websites for a number of years, alleging that its policies and practices concerning admission to the bar and treatment of black patrons amount to race discrimination.

The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Acheampong’s rights under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which make it illegal to refuse service to people at restaurants and other places of public accommodation based on race, were violated by Varsity Tavern’s discrimination against him. He also alleges that Varsity Tavern was negligent in hiring, supervising, and training the employees who denied certain customers entry into the bar.

The Relman Colfax case team is led by Rebecca Livengood and Reed Colfax, with paralegal assistance from Allison Verrilli and Isabel Tessier. Whitburn & Pevsner, PLLC is local counsel.

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