Dress code lawsuit filed against Cordish in K.C.

The Cordish Cos. — the Baltimore-based developer of Fourth Street Live — has been hit with a new lawsuit alleging racial discrimination based on the dress code at the Power & Light entertainment district in Kansas City, Mo.

Does any of this sound familiar?

From The Kansas City Star:

A group of four African-American men has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging discrimination in the dress code at the Power & Light downtown entertainment district.

The lawsuit, which seeks at least $20 million in punitive damages, was filed on behalf of the class of African-American males subjected to the district’s dress code enforcement.

(SNIP)

They are suing the Cordish Companies; Entertainment Concepts Investors, a Cordish affiliate; and the Maker’s Mark bar and lounge.

Maker’s Mark officials referred calls to Cordish representatives, who could not be reached Tuesday night for comment. In the past, Cordish officials have denied any racial discrimination in the enforcement of the district’s dress code.

The dress code in Kansas City was instituted in June 2008, and puts a ban on bandanas, work boots, long white t-shirts, chains and athletic jerseys.  It is similar to the dress code that has come under fire in Louisville on several occasions. Since 2004, Fourth Street Live has been the subject of protests, complaints and lawsuits by African-Americans, many who still believe they are unfairly targeted at the entertainment district.

In October 2009, for instance, a former employee at Maker’s Mark inside Fourth Street Live sued the bar, claiming she was told to discriminate against black patrons by management. The suit alleged she was told that it wanted a “predominantly white crowd” and to “keep out the darker element.”

A few years earlier, a judge had ordered two now-defunct nightclubs — Red Cheetah and Parrot Beach — to publish the dress code and apply it to “blacks and whites equally.” That ruling was made after two African Americans filed a lawsuit claiming they were denied entrance to the clubs.

Unlike Louisville, where Metro government has had a more than cozy relationship with the real estate company and handed out a $950,000 loan to refurbish a downtown club, city leaders in Kansas City questioned Cordish about the dress code and its inconsistent enforcement.

From The Pitch:

What looks like bad publicity on the surface might, in Cordish’s dark way of doing business, be an inexpensive means of letting white suburbanites know that the Power & Light District is sensitive to their fears. Not a fan of hip-hop style? Neither are we. So come on down and take a ride on our mechanical bull.

It’s dangerous to interpret letters to the editor as a barometer of public sentiment. For one thing, cranky people are more likely to put pen to paper. Still, it was interesting to read the letters supporting the ban in the Star last week. A few correspondents evoked Bannister Mall, which is perceived to have failed because it became too “urban.” Some of the letters came from Overland Park, Shawnee and Independence — a reminder that the metropolitan area is 80 percent white.

In addition to the experience in Louisville, which appears to have chastened company officials not a bit, Cordish is establishing a record of dishonesty that leads one to think the worst of its actions.

4 Comments

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    Posted August 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    The lawsuit against Red Cheetah involved an ex parte restraining order issued by a state court judge without giving Red Cheetah an opportunity to present its case. The case was immediately removed to federal court which held a 1 1/2 day hearing and dissolved the restraining order finding there was no discrimination.

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