Ore. Bar Found Guilty of Discriminating Against Trans Patrons Shuts Its Doors

Citing the 2007 Oregon Equality Act, a group of trans women and cross-dressers filed a discrimination complaint against a local bar owner. After the owner failed to pay a $400,000 fine, the bar has closed.

BY Parker Marie Molloy

April 21 2014 3:51 PM ET

A Portland, Ore., bar shut its doors over the weekend after its owner failed to pay a $400,000 fine he was handed last year as the result of a discrimination complaint, The Oregonian reports.

Last year, the owner of the bar and grill was found to be in violation of Oregon's nondiscrimination law after leaving a voice mail telling a group of trans and gender-nonconforming people they were no longer welcome at his establishment.

"Hello, my name is Chris. I'm the owner of the P Club Bar and Grill," bar owner Chris Penner said in a voice mail left for one of the group's members. "Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I'm going to have to ask for you, Cass and your group, to not come back on Friday nights. People think that (a) we're a tranny bar or (b that we're a gay bar. We are neither. People are not coming in because they just don't want to be here on a Friday night now."

Prior to Penner's 2012 voice mail, the group, calling themselves the Rose City T-Girls, had frequented the P Club for more than two years, each Friday bringing between eight and 54 members to the bar.

The complaint filed with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries listed 11 aggrieved parties. Others were unwilling to include their names for fear of being outed. 

Last August the Bureau of Labor and Industries ordered Penner to pay $400,000 in fines to the group. After he failed to pay, the state's Department of Justice stepped in and seized Penner's property and bank accounts.

Penner claims he is neither transphobic nor homophobic, saying his voice mail was simply an attempt to solve the problem of his establishment's declining Friday night sales. Penner is in the process of appealing the Labor Bureau's ruling.

In the meantime, the establishment formerly known as the P Club (Penner had renamed it the Twilight Room Annex in 2012) has shut its doors. Penner told The Oregonian this move has put five people out of a job.

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