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Entries in McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon (1)

Thursday
Nov112010

Bar Tried to Keep Out Black People, Claims Lawsuit

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- A Philadelphia bar actively discriminates against black patrons and employees, banning drinkers who wear baggy clothes and forcing black workers into behind-the-scenes jobs, according to a lawsuit filed by an attorney who moonlights there as a bartender.

In a class-action lawsuit against McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon, lawyers for bartender Michael Bolden said they have obtained e-mails and text messages in which managers discuss ways to limit the number of black patrons.

"We don't want black people we are a white bar," one manager is alleged to have e-mailed another, according to the lawsuit.

The class-action suit brought against the bar and its parent company, East Coast Saloons, claims that the manager, Walt Wyrsta, was worried the clientele had become too black and chided a white employee for promoting DJs and guest bartenders who were attracting too many black customers.

In an e-mail dated Oct. 28, Wyrsta, a general manager, wrote shift manager Kathy Killian to ask about the racial makeup of patrons on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

"2 of the [DJ's] in the battle were black, so it was darker than normal," Killian replied, in a string of messages about how a regular group of black customers patronizing the bar on Wednesday nights was ruining the bar's "reputation."

Employees who answered the phone at McFadden's and at East Coast Saloons said no one would comment. Messages left for Wyrsta and Killian were not returned.

According to the suit, only five of the bar's 75 employees are black, including Bolden and the "man and woman who work in the bathroom handing out towels."

In a statement released by Bolden's lawyers, the 29-year-old Stanford-educated lawyer who has worked part-time at the bar since 2007 said he felt a "moral obligation" to take a stand.

"The one constant is that it is often subtle, behind the scenes, and typically, not written down," he said. "And therein lies the problem: how do you challenge a system, since it seems one cannot even prove it exists. Well, now I can."

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