Former NBA Player Accuses Atlanta Restaurant of Racism, But is It?

September 14, 2011  |  

By Alexis Garrett Stodghill

Former NBA player Joe Barry Carroll and a friend have filed a law suit against an Atlanta restaurant, The Tavern at Phipps, claiming that the establishment forced them to leave when they wouldn’t give up their seats to whites. The popular eatery claims to have a long-standing policy requiring men to give up their seats to ladies when the bar gets crowded. Carroll and his companion, lawyer Joseph Shaw, were asked to do so for two white women, but refused. The black men were ousted from the hot spot by a security guard as a result. Now the pair are suing The Tavern at Phipps, seeking retribution for this supposedly racist act in federal court.

While it is hard to believe that this is international news, The Daily Mail (a prominent paper in the UK) has more on the restaurant’s side of the story:

The restaurant insists there was no discrimination and that it was a long-standing ‘good manners’ practice to allow women a seat at the bar if the venue is very busy.

Their lawyer David Long-Daniels said thousands of men have complied with those rules, including stars like Michael Jordan.

‘Chivalry is not dead,’ he said. ‘And it’s not a civil rights violation to give up your seat to a woman.’

The row stems back to a Friday night in 2006 when Mr Carroll, who started playing in the NBA in the 80s, and Shaw sat at the end of the bar and ordered some drinks and food.

As the crowd grew, a bartender offered them complimentary drinks to move but they declined. They were asked several more times to allow women to have their seats but refused.

A manager eventually threatened to call security if they did not acquiesce and an off-duty Atlanta police officer who works at the restaurant was called over.

Lawyers told the court that the guard said: ‘That’s the way we do it here’ as he ushered the men outside.

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