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Author Topic: We reserve the right to refuse service to any one
darth_borehd
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Occasionally I see the sign "We reserve the right to refuse service to any one" hanging up in stores. Does hanging this sign have any legal significance? Does it enable the store to discriminate against people of different ethnic backgrounds? Does it mean stores have a choice whether or not "reserve" their right or not?
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Jenn
Layaway in a Manger


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I'm pretty sure that private businesses can refuse service to anyone whether they have such a sign or not. If that's so, then no, the sign has no legal significance because the store already has that right.

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christmas tree kitapper
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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We were told that we could use the sign as a reason not to serve some verbally abusive or the loser teens that tried to make us their permanent hangout when I worked at the Bell.

kitap

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Joe Bentley
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Not to hijack but this reminded me of another "legalese" sign that I see a lot but I've never understood.

If you notice on the back of trucks that are carrying gravel or other loose goods they often post a notice saying something to the effect of "Not Responsible for Broken Windsheilds. Stay Back 50 Feet."

How does that work? Can you make legal responsibility for your actions go away just by... well saying so? I'm assuming that under normal circumstance the owner of the truck would be liable for damages due to his/her cargo, otherwise why put the line in the notice about "responsibility?" If they were just simply concerned about your safety or your windshield the notice would just say something like "Caution: Loose Gravel, Stay Back 50 Feet." The very mention of the word "responsibility" in that context says to me that they are responsible normally. How would posting a sign legally change that?

Wouldn't this be rather akin to putting a message on your shirt saying "Not Responsible if I Smack Every Person Who Gets Near Me with a Cricket Bat. Stay Back 50 Feet" and then expecting not to get arrested for assault if you do?

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Tabbymago
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Dunno. But I want that shirt now.

-Tabby
the princess with claws

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RoofingGuy
The First USA Noel


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Joe Bentley:

If you stay back 51 feet and a chunk of gravel cracks your windshield, are they "responsible" then? [Big Grin]

I know my boss got ticketed for an unsafe load when a few bits fell out of his trailer, so I would think the driver is still responsible for his load, sign or not.

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lawguy
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by Jenn:
I'm pretty sure that private businesses can refuse service to anyone whether they have such a sign or not. If that's so, then no, the sign has no legal significance because the store already has that right.

Except they cannot refuse service based upon race, religion or national origin. Otherwise, yes, they can refuse service to anyone they wish, sign or not.

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"I've argued in front of every judge in this state, often as a lawyer."

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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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Or gender. Please don't forget gender!

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If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

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Joe Bentley
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quote:
Originally posted by Four Kitties in the arborvitae:
Or gender. Please don't forget gender!

Someone should probably let the Women's Only Gym across the street from me in on that little legal tidbit.

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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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quote:
Originally posted by Joe Bentley:
quote:
Originally posted by Four Kitties in the arborvitae:
Or gender. Please don't forget gender!

Someone should probably let the Women's Only Gym across the street from me in on that little legal tidbit.
Private clubs are not subject to the same rules as places of public accommodation. See: Augusta National Golf Club et al.

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If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

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pinqy
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Gender is not covered under Federal law, though some states do cover it. 42USC2000a
quote:
All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.
And 42USC12182 protects those with disabilities:
quote:
No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.
Age and sex are not protected from discrimination in public accomodation under federal law to the best of my knowledge.

pinqy

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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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Protected Classes

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If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by pinqy:
Gender is not covered under Federal law, though some states do cover it. 42USC2000a
quote:
All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.
And 42USC12182 protects those with disabilities:
quote:
No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.
Age and sex are not protected from discrimination in public accomodation under federal law to the best of my knowledge.

pinqy

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does prohibit employment discrimination based upon race, color, religion, sex (as opposed to gender), or national origin. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 added disability to the list of protected classes.

[Spanked by FourKitties...darnit!]

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Mickey Blue
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Ok.. I really dont wnat to open this can of worms but I just cannot help it..

Why can a private business not discriminate on who it serves (in terms of race, sex, etc) but a club (be it a golf club that only lets men in, or a health club that only lets women it, or wahetver else) can?

In other words, why (based on what I'm reading here) would be be "ok" for me to open up a health club and say "men only" but it woudln't be "ok" for me to open up a cafe and say "men only"?

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"All people are responsible for the good that they didn't do"

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Raven
I Saw Three Shipments


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The "We reserve the right to refuse service to any one" signs are there to let people know that the store's employees really can tell them to take a walk if they are giving them trouble. If you refuse service to someone, they can't stay without it being loitering.

Once people realize that continuing to stay will get them detained/tazed/arrested by the police, they usually leave quickly and quietly.

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Mickey Blue
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Also, as long as we're on the subject of signs, what legal power do signs like "not responsible for lost/stolen items" and things of that nature (usually on places you keep your car or such areas) have?

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"All people are responsible for the good that they didn't do"

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Mickey Blue:
Ok.. I really dont wnat to open this can of worms but I just cannot help it..

Why can a private business not discriminate on who it serves (in terms of race, sex, etc) but a club (be it a golf club that only lets men in, or a health club that only lets women it, or wahetver else) can?

In other words, why (based on what I'm reading here) would be be "ok" for me to open up a health club and say "men only" but it woudln't be "ok" for me to open up a cafe and say "men only"?

Interesting point. As I understand it, private clubs that receive no federal funding whatsoever, do have the legal right to choose the members it wishes based upon whatever criteria it chooses. Country clubs are a great example of this. However, if your organization receives public funding, such as a university club, it cannot discriminate based upon any of those aforementioned criteria.

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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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quote:
Originally posted by Mickey Blue:
Also, as long as we're on the subject of signs, what legal power do signs like "not responsible for lost/stolen items" and things of that nature (usually on places you keep your car or such areas) have?

This means that they're not responsible if someone breaks into your car and steals your radio. Their agreement is to give you a place to put your car, not to guard it.

Four Kitties

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If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

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pinqy
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Four Kitties, AnglRdr, you're confusing employment rights with public accomodation. There is nothing in Federal law protecting age or sex in public accomodation. Employment, yes, Housing, yes, Places of Public Accomodation, no. Some state laws do cover sex, Federal law does not. Age discrimination is not covered either in Public Accomodation (senior and child discounts at restaurants and theaters are age discrimination).

pinqy

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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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I think you may be right.

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If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I said that Title VII covered employment discrimination, though.

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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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pinqy
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Well, yes, but this thread has nothing to do with employment discrimination and nobody mentioned it until you.

pinqy

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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Oh shame on me, then. [Roll Eyes]

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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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pinqy
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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I was making a statement of fact, not a judgement.

pinqy

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Joseph Z
Xboxing Day


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I remembered seeing an episode on Smallville where the nosey reporter was harassing the store manager.

Next time he came in, she put a sign on his table "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone", because he treating her like trash to get his pathetic want of a story on her and other people's tragedies from the meteor strike.

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Joseph Z

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lawguy
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by Mickey Blue:
Ok.. I really dont wnat to open this can of worms but I just cannot help it..

Why can a private business not discriminate on who it serves (in terms of race, sex, etc) but a club (be it a golf club that only lets men in, or a health club that only lets women it, or wahetver else) can?

In other words, why (based on what I'm reading here) would be be "ok" for me to open up a health club and say "men only" but it woudln't be "ok" for me to open up a cafe and say "men only"?

Two (oversimplified, but generally accurate) reasons:

1. The federal law making it illegal does not apply to private clubs. It applies to "public accomodations."

2. The right of association protected by the First Amendment includes the right not to associate with people you do not want to.

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"I've argued in front of every judge in this state, often as a lawyer."

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Bill
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Mickey Blue:
Ok.. I really dont wnat to open this can of worms but I just cannot help it..

Why can a private business not discriminate on who it serves (in terms of race, sex, etc) but a club (be it a golf club that only lets men in, or a health club that only lets women it, or wahetver else) can?

In other words, why (based on what I'm reading here) would be be "ok" for me to open up a health club and say "men only" but it woudln't be "ok" for me to open up a cafe and say "men only"?

My best effort:

We allow a private club to "discriminate" (not sure a health club would qualify, it might not really be a "club" with members) because we value free association. We don't allow it for a cafe because it's not a "club" with members, just a business serving customers. The owner of the cafe presumably is in it to sell coffee or food and does not care who the customers are.

It might be offensive to the person being excluded from membership in a private club, for a reason that seems ridiculous, but we accept that as the price we pay for free association. I can't join the Italian-American club in my community because I'm not Italian-American *on my father's side* (yes, they require it) and I had no choice in the matter, but I can understand that Italian-Americans may feel that they have some common bond or bonds (culture, language, history, etc.) and that allowing others to join would dilute the objective of the club.

Hope that makes sense.

Thanks.

Bill

Edit: Posted before seeing lawguy's post

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Silas Sparkhammer
I Saw V-Chips Come Sailing In


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What Lawguy and Bill said: a true "club" -- say, a local chess club that meets Thursdays to smack the old pawns around -- can legally exclude anyone. ("No girls aloud!" [sic])

However, there are court cases against men-only "breakfast clubs" where actual business dealings were done. Since the purpose of the meeting went beyond mere "association" and into the realm of "trade," the courts said they had to let women in. (And I say, Yay!)

re trucks disclaiming responsibility for damage done by gravel falling out of their beds...fat chance! They just have those signs to discourage timid people from obtaining their legal rights. If you get a windshield ding from such a truck, phone the trucking company, and if they hassle you, use the magic words, "You want to talk to me, or to my lawyer?" They'll say, "Okay, send us the bill."

(Um...I can only speak definitively for California; I dunno what all y'other 49 are up to...)

Silas

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RealityChuck/Boston Charlie
The First USA Noel


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Ultimately, the disclaimers have little legal weight. They discourage lawsuits by making the policy clear. But if someone kicked you out, and you could show it had something to do with your race, the store could be in trouble.

Same for the warnings on the truck. If your windshield is smashed, you can take them to court. And if someone steals something from your car while it is parked, you have the right to sue the car park.

In both cases, you'd have to prove negligience, though. If the truck is improperly loaded, or if there's a noticeable hole in the tailgate to let rocks out, then it would be the truck's problem. No warning can protect true negligence, for obvious reasons.

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RoofingGuy
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Silas Sparkhammer:
However, there are court cases against men-only "breakfast clubs" where actual business dealings were done. Since the purpose of the meeting went beyond mere "association" and into the realm of "trade," the courts said they had to let women in.

Would that not mean that if women were using their exercise time at a health club for business dealings as they worked out (as opposed to merely discussing work), that they'd have to let men in too?

Don't get me wrong, I understand why "women only" health clubs are popular, especially in terms of the gawk/ogle factor, but I'm just curious.

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lawguy
We Three Blings


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Well, it gets a little dicey. The occaisional business deal, no matter by whome or for what, isn't going to affect the legal status.

The problem comes when a predominant aspect of the purpose of the "club" becomes the business deals.

Where the line is, is not an easy thing to determine and lawyers are paid well to try to figure that out...hey, our kids need to eat too.

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"I've argued in front of every judge in this state, often as a lawyer."

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RoofingGuy
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by lawguy:
Well, it gets a little dicey. The occaisional business deal, no matter by whome or for what, isn't going to affect the legal status.

The problem comes when a predominant aspect of the purpose of the "club" becomes the business deals.

Where the line is, is not an easy thing to determine and lawyers are paid well to try to figure that out...hey, our kids need to eat too.

So I take it that that's a (very) guarded "yes"? [Wink]

And how much did that answer just cost me? [Big Grin]

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I refuse to get into a battle of wits with an unarmed person...

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Hey, can I throw two kinda related arguments into the mix?

Let's say I open a new nightclub. I play dance/hip-hop music and everybody loves it - except for somebody named AnglRdr. She sues me for disrimination for not playing the only REAL music out there - both Country AND Western. If she doesn't get her Travis Tritt, stay away from her!!! Is this basis for a discrimination lawsuit? Discriminatory on the basis of the music or menu (an Italian restaurant) or decor (Rainforest Cafe). Some folks just cannot abide some music genres - so is it enough to form the basis of a disrimination lawsuit??

Secondly, do I have the right to start a business that specifically does not include a group of people? My rap club above specifically does not entice the C&W crowd... what if I specifically want to have a "smokers" bar where people sit around and suck on cigars and cigarettes?? If "addiction is a disease" then I am discriminating against non-smokers. What if I want ceilings that are only 5' high - to cater to little people? Aren't I discriminating against tall folks? In the same vein, what if I want a bar that ONLY has steps - I discriminate against those in wheelchairs. Taking it another step, what if I only want light-skinned blacks in my club?

Where do we draw the line? How far is too far? Personality may well be at least partially genetic, so barring service to a rude-butt may be legitimately discriminatory... as bad as barring service to a (insert ethnicity here).

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ULTRAGLORIA
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Malruhn -

Neither music taste nor smoking status is a protected class, for either employment, housing or public accommodation. No, AnglRdr could not sue you successfully. She can go to some other club that caters to her tastes. There are no laws on the books forcing business owners to cater to every taste. Thank God!

As for the smoking thing, smoking in a place of public accommodation may be regulated by your state or municipality. But there aren't any discrimination laws that apply.

As for the ceiling thing, there are laws on building codes you may be violating. But again, nothing to do with discrimination.

Wheelchair ramps are covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act. You'd be violating that law.

Light-skinned blacks are covered by discrimination in public accommodation laws. So yes, you'd be discriminating there.

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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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quote:
Originally posted by Malruhn:
Let's say I open a new nightclub. I play dance/hip-hop music and everybody loves it - except for somebody named AnglRdr. She sues me for disrimination for not playing the only REAL music out there - both Country AND Western. If she doesn't get her Travis Tritt, stay away from her!!! Is this basis for a discrimination lawsuit? Discriminatory on the basis of the music or menu (an Italian restaurant) or decor (Rainforest Cafe). Some folks just cannot abide some music genres - so is it enough to form the basis of a disrimination lawsuit??

There's a big difference between "discriminating against" and "not catering to."
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Secondly, do I have the right to start a business that specifically does not include a group of people? My rap club above specifically does not entice the C&W crowd...
Again, not enticing a specific group is not the same as turning people away at the door if they have Hank Williams CDs in their cars.
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what if I specifically want to have a "smokers" bar where people sit around and suck on cigars and cigarettes??] If "addiction is a disease" then I am discriminating against non-smokers.
Are you forcing everyone inside to smoke or they're ejected? Non-smokers must be welcome, even if they choose not to smoke themselves.
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What if I want ceilings that are only 5' high - to cater to little people? Aren't I discriminating against tall folks?
Probably a fire code violation.
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In the same vein, what if I want a bar that ONLY has steps - I discriminate against those in wheelchairs.
Specifically prohibited by federal law (ADA) as well as local building codes.
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Taking it another step, what if I only want light-skinned blacks in my club?
Private, members-only club, or one that qualifies as a public accommodation (soliciting attendance of the general public)? Allowed in the first instance, not in the second.
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Where do we draw the line? How far is too far?
The line is currently drawn at private club vs. public accommodation.
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Personality may well be at least partially genetic, so barring service to a rude-butt may be legitimately discriminatory... as bad as barring service to a (insert ethnicity here).
The key words there are "may" and "partially" as opposed to, say, "immutably."

Four Kitties

ETA: Spanked by ULTRAGOTHA yet again!

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If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

Posts: 13275 | From: Kindergarten World, Massachusetts | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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