Sometimes an exaggerated comment-baiting argument can be a force for good–I’m not convinced the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s John Gonzalez really thinks the Phillies ought to (or contractually can) do as he suggests, especially since his argument requires a lawsuit to play out first, but highlighting a race discrimination suit against the bar McFadden’s in the context of their partnership with Citizen’s Bank Park brings more light to a nasty little story. And if you don’t think that’s fair game, your Grandpa probably booed Dick Allen.
Last week, a class-action civil-rights lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court. It claims that McFadden’s and its parent company, East Coast Saloons, are guilty of “racism and racial segregation” and that those practices are “not only tolerated, but mandated.”
The complaint goes further and alleges that the general manager of the Old City bar, Walt Wyrsta, texted a fellow manager on Oct. 28: “We don’t want black people we are a white bar!” (Wyrsta could not be reached for comment.)
Despite being an establishment that’s heavily patronized by college kids and other people in their 20s, the Old City location has a dress code. Among the prohibited items: excessively baggy clothes, work boots, hooded sweatshirts, and athletic jerseys. It also requires customers to tuck in their chains.
The suit was filed on behalf Michael L. Bolden. The 29-year-old is a part-time bartender at McFadden’s in Old City and has been employed by the company since 2007. According to the complaint, the bar has 75 employees but only five are black, including Bolden (who has an African American father and a Cuban American mother). The suit claims that Bolden, who is also a lawyer, had his prime shift changed about the same time McFadden’s allegedly attempted to dissuade black customers from frequenting the bar….
If these latest allegations about McFadden’s are true, it’s long past time for the local baseball team to boot the bar from Citizens Bank Park. A young man died there. That’s tragic and heinous. Now the company that owns the establishment is being accused of fostering racism. That’s not the family-friendly image the Phillies want to project.
Even if the lawsuit isn’t true, that dress code is a piece of work. But I’m actually less inclined to rip McFadden’s for the 2009 tragedy. I mean, they should be held accountable in court for overserving if they’re guilty of that, but the bar itself was not the reason that those people came there on that night, the Phillies are (and people drinking in the parking lots is probably still a bigger problem than people drinking in that bar).
Of course, all the other food in CBP is done by Aramark, the Philadelphia concession company. One could just as easily come up with half a dozen reasons why the Phillies shouldn’t work with them.