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.
Lori Sullivan, a New York lawyer named in the court documents as representing East Coast Saloons, also did not return calls for comment.
According to the complaint, the bar tried to attract black patrons to the bar on Wednesdays during slow weeks over the summer. As white patrons returned to the city after their summer vacations, Wyrsta wanted to put an end to those promotions that attracted black people.
"So let's get back to basics and make the necessary changes by fading away that clientele from the bar and behind the bar," Wyrsta allegedly wrote.
According to the suit, a dress code at the bar was implemented to further keep out black patrons.
According to bar's website, the dress code is "strictly enforced" and bans the wearing of "hats or head coverings of any kind," "athletic wear or jerseys" and "excessively baggy clothing or oversized logos."
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.
"On a tour of bars and clubs across the country, it is clear that many, if not most, lack the great diversity this nation has to offer," Bolden said in a statement. "Having worked in the business for several years, it is clear to me that places often create a culture of exclusion in many ways, including dress codes, marketing, or policies followed by the security staff.
"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."