A Boston nightclub has agreed to pay a fine, issue a public apology and have its staff attend anti-discrimination training for closing the club when a significant number of black attendees showed up, under an agreement reached with Attorney General Martha Coakley and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
The agreement was based on a complaint made by a group of black Harvard University graduates who had organized an event at Cure Lounge as an after-party to the Harvard and Yale football game last November.
Approximately 400 tickets were purchased before the sold-out event. But about an hour after the 10 p.m. starting time, Cure Lounge abruptly ended the event and told all guests that they needed to leave. The vast majority of event guests who stood in line and who entered the club were black, according to the complaint.
Under the agreement, which states Cure Lounge violated state laws prohibiting public places from restricting entry or limiting use based on race, gender, or national origin, the nightclub must pay a $30,000 fine to the state.
Paige Hospitality, which runs the nightclub, is also required to post an apology on its website.
Last fall, speaking on behalf of the nightclub, George K. Regan Jr. told the Globe "there were a lot of people in line known to police and police and security circles as bad people, OK? They probably couldn't spell the word `Harvard."
The apology states:
“The owners, managers and employees of Cure Lounge wish to extend our deepest apologies to all of those affected, both directly and indirectly, by the unfortunate events that occurred on the evening of November 20, 2010.
"Cure Lounge further apologizes for the statements made on its behalf by its public relations group in the days following the event. Those statements were uninformed and in no way reflect the values or beliefs of the owners, managers, and employees of Cure Lounge.
"Cure Lounge does not tolerate racism. Cure Lounge will abide with all of the conditions requested by the attorney general and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Cure Lounge will do everything in its power to ensure that the events of November 20 will not be repeated.”
In a telephone interview today, Regan bristled at being blamed for the comments he made at the request of the club’s owners last fall when the issue gained media attention and the attention of Boston City At-Large Councilor Ayanna Pressley.
“I apologize for nothing,’’ Regan said. “I personally don’t happen to frequent the Cure Lounge. The facts that were related to the media I was told by the owners, who happened to be there.’’
Regan added, “they’re obviously under a lot of pressure from the attorney general’s office. They have a (nightclub) license to protect. Good luck to them. I did nothing but repeat what I was told by the owners.’’
Pressley, who was among the first public officials to call for an inquiry into the incident, issued a statement today congratulating Coakley.
“This consent judgment sends a clear message to every licensed venue in Boston- discrimination will not be tolerated and the consequences for offenders will be significant,’’ she said in a statement. “Discrimination has no place in 2011 Boston and episodes like this do serious damage to the city’s brand.’’
Pressley, who is chair of the City Council's tourism committee, also said that “at a time of historic fiscal challenges, Boston’s venues should be inviting, engaging and welcoming for every resident and visitor.”
According to Coakley’s office, the majority of $30,000 will be distributed to entities that assist black students seeking higher education opportunities.
“Massachusetts businesses cannot refuse to host events because of racial reasons,” Coakley said in a statement.
Coakley added, “In this case, club waitstaff made harmful and ill-conceived conclusions based on the simple fact that most of the guests were black. This type of behavior is the essence of racial stereotyping and it is a reminder that, despite the many strides we have taken, there is still progress to be made.”
Julian T. Tynes, chairman of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, added, “This was clearly a situation that would have been prevented with anti-discrimination training of the staff and employees of the club. Incidents such as this illuminate the ever present need for the proper training of employees and staff of public establishments in anti-discrimination training in places of public accommodation.”
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