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EEOC Sues Bliss Cabaret for Race Discrimination and Retaliation

Clearwater Adult Club Fired Manager for Opposing Owner's Racially Discriminatory Practice, Federal Agency Charges

TAMPA, Fla - A Clearwater, Fla., adult entertainment club violated federal law by racially discriminating against an African-American employee and firing a manager who objected to the racism, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a recently filed lawsuit.

According to the EEOC's suit, Bliss Cabaret's owner, Michael Tomkovich, created and maintained racially discriminatory practices which resulted in the firing of a recently hired African-American bartender. A new manager was instructed to immediately fire the bartender he had hired because Tomkovich did not want black bartenders working there. Bliss Cabaret's manager told his supervising regional manager and Tomkovich that he did not agree with Bliss Cabaret's policy of not hiring black bartenders. After he objected to Tomkovich about the discriminatory practice, the manager was suspended and then fired.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race and color and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who oppose discrimination. The EEOC filed suit against 3860 Ulmerton Road, LLC, formerly known as Bliss Cabaret, and its successor club AJ 3860, LLC d/b/a The Executive, (Case No. 8:14 cv 1621 T33 TGW) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks back pay, front pay and/or reinstatement, compensatory damages, and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

"This suit is a reminder that federal civil rights laws' prohibitions against race discrimination apply to all types of businesses and industries," said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the Miami District Office. "There is no exception under Title VII for 'gentlemen's clubs.'"

Georgia Marchbanks, director of the Tampa Field Office, added, "The EEOC takes very seriously the obligation to protect people who object to illegal discrimination, even in instances, like here, where the person complaining is not personally being discriminated against."

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. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.