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Clearwater Adult Club Found to Have Racially Discriminated

EEOC | Lawsuit | Bias | Discrimination

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said the club fired a manager who objected to a ban on hiring African-Americans. An African-Amerrican bartender was fired because of his race, the EEOC said.

CLEARWATER – An adult entertainment club and its parent company violated federal law by firing an African-American employee on the basis of race and later retaliating against a manager who objected to the racism, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The company must pay more than $365,000 in total monetary relief under a default judgment dated Aug. 11 and signed by the Hon. Virginia M. Hernandez Covington, U.S. District Judge.

The EEOC accused Bliss Cabaret and its successor corporation, Executive Gentlemen’s Club, of firing  Quatavia Harden from her employment as a Bliss Cabaret bartender because its owner, Michael Tomkovich, did not want a black bartender working at the club. Patrick Franke, the Bliss Cabaret manager who hired Harden, opposed and refused to participate in the discriminatory conduct and was suspended, then fired because of his refusal, the EEOC said.

The EEOC said Southeast Showclubs, LLC, the parent company, was also liable for the discriminatory conduct. Tomkovich owns and operates a chain of adult entertainment clubs located throughout Florida, which include Bliss Cabaret and its successor Executive, through Southeast Showclubs, LLC.

The conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and also prohibits retaliation for opposing unlawful practices, the EEOC said. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to settle the matter informally through its conciliation process.

All defendants failed to respond to the EEOC’s allegations and, based on that failure, the Court determined defendants were liable for discriminatory conduct and awarded the EEOC significant relief in their absence, including monetary relief totaling about $365,025. That amount included punitive damages, compensatory damages, back pay, interest, and tax penalty offsets for Franke and Harden.  Additionally, the Court ordered the defendants’ multiple adult entertainment clubs to cease their discriminatory practices, to adopt non-retaliation and non-discrimination policies, and to report hiring data so the EEOC can monitor compliance.

“Stopping blatant discriminatory hiring such as this is crucial,” EEOC regional attorney Robert E. Weisberg said.  “This employer implemented discriminatory policies at all levels of management, then retaliated against the one manager who opposed such policies.  Such conduct flies in the face of the anti-discrimination laws EEOC enforces.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination.  The Miami District Office’s jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. For information, see

Clearwater | Race Discrimination | Bliss Cabaret | EEOC | TB Reporter

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