Houston lawyer alleges The Sugar Room turned him down because he was black

A prominent Houston attorney is suing a downtown nightclub, alleging staff denied him entry because of his race and gender.

William Powells, a local personal injury lawyer and CEO of his own law firmis suing the company that owns The Sugar Room for at least $500,0000, alleging the staff “acted with malice and/or reckless disregard” towards his rights and singled him out because he is an African-American male.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court, Powells said he was denied entry to the Washington Avenue cocktail bar and speakeasy lounge in September 2021 because he had “holes” in his jeans. The head of security reportedly told Powells the club wanted to have “a certain image” and were “very strict” on Saturdays.

Powells, who was at the club for a birthday party for his former client Cindy Martinez, told security that the “holes” in his jeans were actually patches, according to the lawsuit. He waited outside the club and shouted “Happy Birthday” from the street, according to the suit, and told the birthday celebrant that he couldn’t get in because of his attire.

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As he stood there, Powells said he saw several other people walk past him with holes in their jeans, both men and women, according to the lawsuit. He said he also saw non-African American men with casual clothes, like open-toed sandals and tennis shoes, allowed in.

Powells then began recording video on his cellphone and asked to speak to an official, the lawsuit says. Security reportedly told Powells the manager was unavailable and refused to share contact information.

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When confronted with Powell’s documented sightings of other people entering the club, the head of security told Powell ‘Well, we’re not perfect and denied seeing people admitted with holes. in their pants, the lawsuit says.Security also reportedly said the rules don’t apply to women.

On HoustonChronicle.com: A black Houston doctor’s check for $16,000 was dishonoured. Now she’s suing Chase Bank, alleging racial discrimination

The Sugar Room did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

“It is unbelievable that more than half a century has passed since the civil rights movement and that lawyer Powells has been kicked out of a club because of the color of his skin,” said the lawyer for the civil rights Randall Kallinen in a statement. “It’s time for that to change and this federal civil rights law is key.”

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Rachel J. Bradford