Black Club-Goers Allegedly Forced To Buy $320 Booze to Enter NYC Bar, File Discrimination Lawsuit

February 14, 2013  |  


File this under outrageous news: According to a lawsuit filed by a  group of African-American NYC club-goers, they were forced to buy a $320 bottle of vodka to get into a popular rooftop lounge while white patrons easily gained admittance without having to make a similar purchase.

Jermaine Sanders, 29, and three female friends are suing the popular spot 230 Fifth, accusing its bouncers of discrimination. They also claim nightclub staff used racial slurs. The incident soured the Brooklyn-based foursome from partying in Manhattan.

“Since this incident the plaintiffs have almost entirely given up on frequenting night life spots in Manhattan due to the prejudice they experienced that night,” the lawsuit claims.

“Sanders, his brother and two friends arrived at the sprawling club at 11:10 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2010, after booking a VIP section over the phone earlier in the day,” reports DNA Info. A bouncer blocked them from entering, even though Sanders’ girlfriend and three white female friends were already inside.

Sanders’ girlfriend came back to the entrance and informed the bouncer that they had already purchased a $320 bottle of Grey Goose vodka, which was supposed to cover the entrance fee for 10 people. But the bouncer still blocked Sanders from entering.

“You didn’t purchase a bottle from me so go back upstairs, you guys aren’t getting in,” he said, according to the lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

According to DNA Info, “The bouncer finally relented on the condition that they bought another $320 bottle of booze — even though no other party on the rooftop had to do so, the lawsuit says.”

“They had to agree to terms and conditions that were different from what a white patron was subjected to,” Sanders’ lawyer, Fred Lichtmacher, told the outlet.

The story continues. When Sanders’ three black female friends, Nyisha Haynes, Niyah Cook, and Julia Cook, arrived later at the club, they were turned away while 45 non-black patrons were admitted, the lawsuit says.

Reports DNA Info, despite Sanders’ protests that his group had bought two bottles, which should have covered 20 guests, the bouncer still wouldn’t admit the women. The bouncer allegedly called Haynes and the Cooks “black b—-es” and told them, “I let enough of you up here tonight.”

“It sounds preposterous to me,” Michael Scharf, a managing member of 230 Fifth, told DNA Info. “We don’t discriminate. We have African-American customers every night and value their patronage.” According to Scharf, the club has not been served with the lawsuit.

This isn’t the first discrimination lawsuit against the club. In 2011, 16 black men sued 230 Fifth for $500 million, claiming they were booted from the bar after then-owner, Steven Greenberg, started screaming at the staff that they would “f— up my $10,000 sofa” with a cake they had brought, write DNA Info.

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  • IllyPhilly

    “So let’s go give them our money to show them we can afford to be here.” That was one of the factors of being ghetto and the you know you ghetto book I’ve owned since I was a kid and it was under a special heading of self-hatred.

  • Sharon

    We as blacks will never learn the lesson of stop going to places that don’t want our money and treat us like nothing. This is the reason why we really need to support black business that provides good customer service.

    • IllyPhilly

      THEY as Blacks, I don’t frequent anything that discriminates against me.

  • clove8canela

    I side with the plaintiff because depending on what neighborhood you chose to party in (especially Meatpacking), this is how the bouncers behave. Your place in line means nothing, as they’ll walk the line & choose who they want to go in. And don’t be fat, because regardless of color, the odds are slim. And if you are black, you have to be beautiful, model thin & have the right “look.”

    In this case, the bouncer prob felt black people don’t or won’t pay for drinks and white people do, so he prob called himself getting his money on the front end.

    I find this protocol at many (not all) so-called exclusive clubs in the city where the majority of the patrons are white, and because I’m not really trying to deal with this when I just want a drink, I avoid these kinds of places.

    • kierah

      I saw their pictures in the paper. All of the ladies in the case are overweight.

  • Me

    Puhlease. They some dayum dummies. The club was doing you wrong so you put money in their pockets anyway?

  • Kenedy

    No club is worth entering if im forced to buy a $320 bottle of vodka…..on the other hand, because they did purchase it & their friends were denied entrance, maybe their lawsuit has merit

  • Reese

    If they were dumb enough to buy the vodka they don’t have grounds for a lawsuit. They weren’t coerced or otherwise threatened, they paid the money of their own free will.

    • kierah

      I agree. Is the argument that they were denied their fundamental right to party?

      On the other hand, racial discrimination is still wrong. If the white patrons weren’t subject to those rules, that is a problem.