Trials & Litigation

Suit: Ex-NBA All-Star Asked to Give Up Seat for White Women

Former NBA All-Star Joe Barry Carroll has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against a popular Atlanta tavern, claiming that while other while men were sitting at the bar, he and his friend were forced to move so that two white women could sit down.

It’s apparently a custom at the bar for men to relinquish their seats for women. But Carroll and his friend, lawyer Joseph Shaw, both of whom are black, say they wanted to finish their meal first and couldn’t understand why the white men weren’t being asked to move, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

After the Aug. 11, 2006, incident at Tavern at Phipps, Carroll, who’s now an investment adviser, and Shaw filed a complaint with Atlanta’s Human Relations Commission. The commission ultimately found that that Tavern had discriminated against the men on the basis of gender and possibly race. The ACJ quotes an Oct. 10, 2007, commission finding that, “In light of the long racial history between black and white, the commission can’t help but to wince at the notion of expressly sanctioning a practice that would have the effect of requiring an African-American to relinquish his or her seat to a Caucasian patron.”

The Tavern’s owner denies race was a factor. “We’re all Southern gentlemen,” Greg Greenbaum is quoted saying. “It creates a nice social environment when gentlemen give up their seats at the bar. That’s the way we like to do business. It’s a courtesy to our female guests.”

Shaw, who is identified as a criminal defense lawyer, also is expected to file suit.

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