Suit Claims Celebrity Haunt Used Facebook, MySpace to Weed Out Minorities

Suit says celebrity haunt used networking sites to weed out minorities.

August 16, 2010, 11:35 AM

Aug. 17, 2010— -- The owner of a bowling alley and nightclub popular with Manhattan's trendy crowd allegedly used networking sites Facebook and MySpace to screen out minorities and others he felt weren't desirable for his club, according to a lawsuit filed by former employees.

Five ex-employees of Bowlmor Lanes in Manhattan's Union Square sued owner Tom Shannon claiming they were dismissed because of discrimination that ranged from their race, their gender, or the fact that one was pregnant as well as a minority.

In depositions included in their suit, the one-time Bowlmor workers detailed how Shannon allegedly also discriminated against certain people who would be allowed into the Carnival Night Club above the bowling lanes, where celebrities ranging from swimmer Michael Phelps to Paris Hilton are known to be photographed.

According to the lawsuit filed in July, Shannon was "very upset at the 'diversity' in his club and wanted to make more changes to ensure that the 'diversity' in the club was halted."

In the lawsuit obtained by ABC News, Alice Rosenaur, Christopher Falletta, Denish Sheomber, Shavone Boston and Troy Sacco state that Shannon " instructed [them] to 'obtain patrons' information and then search them in social networking sites to see how they looked, dressed, or where they lived, all in an effort to deny those from certain racial groups.'"

The alleged screening began in February after a series of fights that needing police assistance were reported at the club, according to the suit.

Falletta's deposition stated that after the violent incidents, he and others met with senior level management to discuss ways of excluding certain people from their events. Falletta noted that a dress code was immediately enacted to "specifically weed out certain racial groups under the guise of selectively not allowing admittance to guests who wore baseball caps, sports jerseys, oversized jeans or Timberland boots."

Falletta also stated that he immediately voiced his opposition once the group discussed the possibility of forming a team of specialized consultants for their future events to "find patrons on social networking internet site such as Facebook and MySpace and weed out patrons who were deemed racially problematic such as African Americans, Asians and Latinos."

Members of the specialzed team were assigned to sift through the Facebook "event groups" that were formed, along with vetting the individuals inquiring about private parties, before confirming their events, Faletta alleged.

The deposition by Shavone Boston, who is black, states that Falletta was told by Shannon after she was hired that Boston "might not fit in too well" and that he "did not want African Americans in his business," according to the lawsuit.

Alice Rosenaur claimed in court papers that two weeks after she began working at Bowlmor, she learned she was pregnant and immediately informed her surpervisors. While on jury duty about two months later, Rosenaur received notice that she was going to be fired because of her poor sales records, the claimed in the deposition. Rosenaur stated that she surpassed her sales quota the month prior and that she was being let go because she was allegedly pregnant and was of Hispanic and Mexican descent.

Shannon's attorney, Mercedes Colwin could not be reached for comment.

ABC News reached out to the individual employees involved in the lawsuit for comment.

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