Portland club discrimination case settled

As part of the settlement, the dress code used to discriminate against black patrons must be stopped.


Patrons outside Dirty, a Portland nightclub whose owner settled after being sued for discrimination.
Leah Nash

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In May 2017, a black man named Sam Thompson was denied entry to a Portland, Oregon, nightclub. The club cited a dress code, common in Portland, that has often been used against non-white residents. A week later, a white friend of Thompson’s entered the bar in identical clothing with no trouble. Thompson sued, and the incident publicized something already obvious to Portland’s non-white citizens. Despite its progressive political reputation, Oregon was founded explicitly for white settlers, with laws barring African-Americans. Many discriminatory policies endure today (“Racist policing plagues Portland’s nightclubs,” HCN, 2/18/19).

Thompson’s lawsuit was settled in June, according to the Willamette Week. In court documents, numerous former employees of club owner Chris Lenahan said he would explicitly limit the number of black patrons in his clubs, something Lenahan denies. As part of the settlement, Lenahan must end the dress code used to discriminate against Thompson.

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