HOUSTON - An alleged case of discrimination at Gaslamp has blown up into a federal case. "You have the right to refuse service. You do not have the right to refuse service based on discriminatory reasons and that`s what we`re here to fight" says attorney Brian Tagtmeier.
Gaslamp's owner Ayman Jarrah disagrees saying,"I don`t think we did anything wrong. They`re just too sensitive about it. I`ve been rejected from a lot of places in this city and ok have a good day. I don`t have to come back."
This controversy began just over a month ago when Ken Pigee, Dan Scarbrough and Brandon Ball say the Gaslamp nightclub discriminated against them by charging them a $20 cover fee while white patrons got in free. "It hurt but after it goes away you`ve got that feeling of anger" explains Scarbrough.
His attorney wants to make Gaslamp pay for what they did "because it was wrong and they`re continuing to do it." Gaslamp's owner says the men weren't the only ones that had to pay the cover charge and claims he has 50 white people that had to pay the cover charge, so he really doesn't think they have a case.
The group says a federal case was necessary because there`s no local laws to punish those who discriminate, though that would change if the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance passes on November 3. "Prop 1 allows a different way where the city can come in and take care, and file injunctions and make these people comply with what the law is," explains Tagtmeier.
Gaslamp's attorney Tim Sutherland disagrees saying, "It's one-sided ordinance, it's a criminal statute, you have to go to criminal court. It gives the city subpoena power, the ability to make task forces, and to just come in to your business and investigate as much as they please in order to find you guilty, and I do not support that."
Looks like a jury will have the final say in this case.