SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND F & K MANAGEMENT, INC., D/B/A HARD TIMES CAFÉ AND SANTA FE CUE CLUB I. INTRODUCTION
This matter came to the attention of the United States Department of Justice in September 2001, when the Sikh Coalition, a non-profit advocacy organization, lodged a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice through the Division's National Origin Working Group alleging that a manager at the Hard Times Café and Santa Fe Cue Club at 6362 Springfield Plaza in Springfield, Virginia told Kabeer Singh, an Indian-American and practicing Sikh, to remove his turban or leave the club. In response to that complaint, the United States initiated an investigation to determine whether the owner and operator of the establishment, F & K Management, Inc. (hereinafter, F & K), engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000a et seq., which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion and national origin in "any place of public accommodation," including restaurants, and clubs that provide "sources of entertainment," such as pool tables and dart boards, that "move in commerce." 42 U.S.C. § 2000a (c)(3).
During its investigation, the United States learned that F & K published and posted at the Springfield restaurant and club, a dress code that prohibits "do-rags," (1)bandannas, and hats other than cowboy hats and baseball caps inside the club (the "Policy"). (A copy of the Policy is attached as Exhibit A).The manager at the Springfield club invoked the Policy when questioned about his treatment of Kabeer Singh on September 23, 2001. However, prior to September 11, 2001, two Sikhs, including Mr. Singh, had been allowed to wear turbans inside the Springfield club.
Following its investigation, the United States concluded that, in its implementation of the Policy, F & K had engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminating against Sikhs, Muslims, Indian-Americans and other Asian Americans who wear certain kinds of head coverings, such as turbans, for religious or ethnic cultural reasons.
Although 42 U.S.C. § 2000a-5 authorizes the Attorney General to bring a civil action whenever he has reasonable cause to believe that a person or group of persons is engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of the statute, the United States and F & K agree, that in order to avoid protracted and costly litigation, their controversy should be resolved through the terms of this Agreement. Nothing in the Agreement, however, precludes the United States from introducing evidence of the conduct described in Section II, below, in an action alleging that F & K has engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000a, et seq. after the Agreement is executed. Similarly, nothing in this Agreement is to be construed as an admission by F & K that it has engaged at any time in a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of the statute.
For the purposes of this Agreement, the parties stipulate that the Hard Times Cafés and Santa Fe Cue Clubs owned, operated or managed by F & K are "place[s] of public accommodation" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 2000a(b)(2) and (3), respectively, and that their operations "affect commerce" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 2000(a)(c). The parties further stipulate that the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the Agreement should F & K, a Virginia corporation, fail to comply with any or all of its terms.
II. THE UNITED STATES' CONTENTIONS
As a result of its investigation of the Sikh Coalition's complaint, the United States sets forth the following allegations:
- F & K Management, Inc. owns and operates the Hard Times Café and Santa Fe Cue Club located at 6263 Springfield Plaza, Springfield, Virginia and the Hard Times Café and Santa Fe Cue Club located at 428 Elden Street, Herndon, Virginia.
- The Cafés are chili parlors, which, in addition to chili, serve appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches and beer. The clubs, which are connected to the cafes, are places of entertainment where patrons may play pool and darts, listen to recorded music, eat food and drink beverages.
- The United States alleges that, acting through its owners, officers, managers, employees and agents, F & K, in implementing the Policy, discriminated on the basis of religion against Sikhs and Muslims, and on the basis of national origin against Indian-Americans and other Asian-Americans, by denying them the enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges of the Santa Fe Cue Clubs on the same basis that it makes such goods, services, facilities and privileges available to individuals affiliated with other religions, those who claim no religious affiliation, and members of other ethnic groups.
- The United States alleges that F & K implemented this discriminatory Policy and practice by enforcing a dress code at its Springfield Club in a manner that prohibited turbans and other head coverings worn for religious reasons, and enforcing this dress code to bar Sikhs, Muslims, Indian-Americans and other Asian-Americans wearing turbans and other head coverings for religious or national origin reasons. F & K has, through its employees and agents, told individuals, including an Indian-American Sikh and Asian-American individuals claiming to be Muslims, that they had to either remove their head coverings or be denied entry. F & K's owner has admitted that the company exercises broad discretion in enforcing the policy and has stated that exceptions are made based on factors such as the attitude and demeanor of the customer. In addition, F & K's owner stated that the company's policy was designed to maintain a family atmosphere and to keep out gang-members while conveying the feel of an authentic, "Texas-style" chili parlor.
- On September 23, 2001, F & K, through a manager at its Springfield club, told Kabeer Singh, an Indian American patron who is a practicing Sikh, to remove his turban or leave the club. When Mr. Singh explained that he was a Sikh and was required by his religion to wear the turban, the manager replied that he did not care and informed Mr. Singh that cowboy hats and baseball caps were the only head coverings that could be worn inside the club. When Mr. Singh's friends, Kevin Ngu and Kenny Singh, approached the manager to tell him that Mr. Singh was wearing a turban for religious reasons, the manager pointed to a sign posted near the doorway which stated that hats, with the exception of cowboy hats and baseball caps, were prohibited.
- On occasions prior to the events of September 11, 2001, Mr. Singh had been permitted to wear his turban inside the Springfield club and had seen another Sikh wearing a turban in the club.
III. F & K'S CONTENTIONS
In response to the allegations raised by the United States in Section II, above, and as a result of its own investigation of the incident that triggered the complaint by the Sikh Coalition, F & K states as follows:
- F & K denies that it has implemented a policy and practice of discrimination against anyone. The dress code attached hereto as "Exhibit A," was adopted at the Springfield Club in an effort to exert control over the types of patrons who might use the club. The Cue Club concept was developed and has been marketed as a family-style billiard hall. Exhibit A was intended to give the managers of the Cue Club some discretion in denying admission to individuals who might prove disruptive to the family-style atmosphere. The Springfield, Virginia shopping center where the Springfield club is located had in the past been the scene of gang disturbances. F & K decided that prohibiting certain head coverings would be a way to limit gang activity at the club while at the same time maintaining the atmosphere of an authentic Texas chili parlor.
- Prior to the United States's investigation of the matter, the manager involved in the incident with Kabeer Singh at the Springfield Cue Club on September 23, 2002, left F & K of his own accord for reasons unrelated to the incident. F & K's owner did not learn of the incident until well after the manager involved had terminated his employment relationship with the company. F & K acknowledges that it has no basis for contesting Mr. Singh's allegations.
- F & K affirmatively states that it welcomes patrons of all religions and national origins and that its patrons and employees represent diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds.
- F & K continues to deny that it has ever implemented a policy of discrimination or that it was ever a party to any plan or policy that could lead to discrimination against anyone. However, after F & K's owner learned of the incident involving Kabeer Singh, and after consultations in this matter with representatives of the Department of Justice , F & K believes that its policy could lead to instances of discrimination and agrees that it should be changed. F & K also believes that the human relations training suggested by the Department of Justice is useful to sensitize its employees to the various ethnic and religious customs of F & K's diverse patronage. F & K has always been ready, willing and able to apologize formally to Kabeer Singh for the incident of September 23, 2001, and is happy to have the opportunity to do so now as part of this Settlement Agreement.
IV. NONDISCRIMINATION PROVISIONS
- Prohibited Conduct
- F & K Management, Inc., its owners, officers, managers, employees, agents, successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with it in the ownership, operation and/or management of places of public accommodation (2) will permanently refrain from:
- failing or refusing to admit any person to the premises of such establishment because of his or her religion or national origin;
- failing or refusing to admit any person to the premises because he or she is wearing a head covering, other article(s) of clothing, or other symbol(s) in observance of his or her religion or because of his or her national origin;
- denying to any person, because of his or her religion or national origin, the full and equal enjoyment of all the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of such establishment;
- denying to any person, because he or she is wearing a head covering or other article of clothing in observance of his or her religion or because of his or her national origin, the full and equal enjoyment of all the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of such establishment;
- expelling from the premises any person because of his or her religion or national origin, or because he or she is wearing head covering(s), other article(s) of clothing, or other symbols in observance of his or her religion or because of his or her national origin;
- requiring any person to remove head coverings, article(s) of clothing, or other symbol(s) worn in observance of his or her religion or because of his or her national origin as a condition of admission or service; and
- adopting practices, policies or procedures in the management of such establishments that exclude or are designed to exclude persons from the premises on the basis of their religion or national origin.
- Affirmative Measures
- Rescission or Termination of F & K's Dress Code and Related Policies or Practices
- F & K Management, Inc. will immediately rescind all policies, rules, statements, and instructions, written or unwritten, and cease all practices, formal or informal, that in any way prohibit, discourage, limit or restrict prospective patrons from entering the restaurants, clubs or other places of public accommodation which it owns, operates, manages, or staffs, because of religion or national origin, or because those persons are wearing head coverings or other attire or symbols for religious or ethnic cultural reasons.
- In addition, F & K will immediately rescind all policies, rules, statements, instructions and practices, written or unwritten, formal or informal, which in any way prohibit, discourage, limit or restrict persons from the equal use and enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of the restaurants, clubs or other places of public accommodation owned, operated, managed, or staffed by F & K, on the basis of religion or national origin, or because persons are wearing head coverings or other attire or symbols for religious or ethnic cultural reasons.
- F & K will also immediately remove from the restaurants and clubs which it owns, operates and manages any signs which prohibit the wearing of head coverings other than cowboy hats and baseball caps inside the premises. Exhibit A will be replaced with Exhibit B.
- Posting of Non-Discrimination Signs
- Adoption and Implementation of a Dress Code that Complies with Title II of the Civil Rights Act.
- Measures Regarding Kabeer Singh
F & K has posted and will permanently maintain at its Springfield and Herndon restaurants and clubs printed signs, approximately twelve (12) by fifteen (15) inches in dimension, stating that service will be provided to all persons without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin. The signs are in block letters. Their contents are set forth in Exhibit C, attached hereto. The signs are printed in dark letters on a light, contrasting background. A sample of the signs was submitted to the United States in February 2003. The United States approved the general appearance of the signs, including the height and font of the letters, the color of the letters and their contrasting background, and the material on which they are printed on February 19, 2003. The signs are posted near the entrances to the clubs from inside the cafes, as well as near the doorways leading to and from the clubs to the outside (i.e., the locations inside the facilities where F & K's dress code was posted previously). The signs are posted between 5' and 6' from the ground. At no time during the term of this Agreement will the signs be obstructed or removed for any reason.
F & K will also post and permanently maintain such signs inside the entrance of any other restaurant or club owned, operated or managed by F & K Management, Inc., for so long as F & K has management authority over said facilities. In addition, F & K will post and permanently maintain such signs in any other place of public accommodation, as defined by Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in which F & K presently has or subsequently acquires any ownership or management interest. Such signs shall be posted between 5' to 6' from the ground in a well-lit area.
Any expenses related to this provision shall be borne by F & K.
In the event F & K elects to adopt and implement a new policy to replace the dress code rescinded pursuant to Section II. B. 1, supra, of this Agreement, such policy shall comply with Title II of the Civil Rights Act. F & K will refrain from adopting and implementing a policy that discriminates against persons on the basis of their religion or national origin, or on the basis of head coverings or other attire worn in observance of their religion or because of their national origin. Ten (10) days before F & K proposes to adopt and implement a new dress code, it will send to the United States via Federal Express (3) a copy of the proposed code.
F & K shall not adopt, post or implement a new dress code without prior written approval of the United States. The United States shall review any proposed new dress code proposed by F & K to ensure that it clearly describes prohibited attire; is not unduly susceptible to discriminatory interpretation or enforcement; requires the same standards regarding dress to be applied regardless of a patron's race, color, national origin, or religion; does not treat patrons differently on the basis of attire or symbols worn in observance of religion or for cultural reasons relating to race or national origin; and does not intentionally discriminate against any patrons or potential patrons on the basis of race, color, national origin, or religion. Within thirty (30) days of receipt of any proposed, new dress code from F & K, the United States shall Federal Express to the company its revisions, if any. If the United States approves the proposed dress code without changes, it will so notify F & K in writing within the same period.
F & K will, within thirty (30) days of execution of this Agreement, contract to provide notification to the public that it welcomes the attendance of individuals to its facilities without regard to race, religion, disability, or national origin by running such notice in the Washington Post, a national and local trade publication whose readerships consists substantially of Sikh Americans, and a national and local trade publication whose readerships consists substantially of Muslim Americans. The Sikh and Muslim publications in which F & K proposes to advertise must be approved in advance by the United States. The advertisements shall run in the three publications within sixty (60) days of the execution of this Agreement, and shall run in each publication an additional five (5) times over the life of the Agreement. Within fifteen (15) days of receipt from F & K of the names of proposed Sikh and Muslim publications, the United States shall send to the company via Federal Express written notification of its approval or rejection of the publications proposed by the company. In the event the United States rejects F & K's recommendations, it shall propose alternative publications to the company.
The advertisements shall not be less than one sixth of one page of each publication and shall contain the language set forth in Exhibit D.
The cost of the advertising shall be borne by F & K.
Within thirty (30) days of the date of the execution of this Agreement, F & K will provide a program of educational training concerning the provisions of this Agreement to F & K owners and officers and all employees, agents, and contractors who have responsibility for managing and enforcing the policies, including dress codes, of the Springfield and Herndon Hard Times Cafés and Santa Fe Cue Clubs and all other cafes operated and/or managed by F & K. Each individual attending the training will sign a certificate of attendance. A representative of the United States will attend the training to answer questions, and the certifications will be provided to the United States's representative at the conclusion of the training session. A sample certificate is attached to this Agreement as Exhibit E . In addition, within 30 days of execution of this Agreement, F & K will send to the United States via Federal Express certificates of attendance signed by each owner, officer and employee of the company who attended the October 2002 training provided by the Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force (SMART) regarding beliefs and customs of Sikhs. Finally, within ten (10) days of execution of this Agreement, F & K will retain Connecting Cultures, or another organization agreed to by the parties, to provide educational training to F & K's owners and all employees, agents, and contractors who have responsibility for managing and enforcing the policies, including dress codes, of the cafes and clubs owned, operated or managed by F & K, concerning the religious and ethnic cultural practices and customs -- including religious and ethnic cultural attire -- of Muslims and individuals of Middle Eastern origin. Such training shall be provided and completed no later than ninety (90) days after Connecting Cultures, or other appropriate organization, is so retained. The training shall take place at the Springfield Cue Club, or at an alternative location to be approved by the United States, and shall be three (3) hours in duration. All persons attending such a program shall have their attendance certified in writing by the training organization and the certifications shall be provided to the United States within ten (10) days after completion of the training. The certifications prepared by the training organization shall be provided to the United States for approval at least ten (10) days prior to the training. All costs and fees associated with the implementation of this provision are to be borne by F & K.
Attached to this Agreement as "Exhibit F, " is F & K's formal, written apology to Kabeer Singh, which assures Mr. Singh that he, his family and other Sikhs who wear head coverings in observance of their religion are welcome in its restaurants and clubs. In addition, F & K has offered Mr. Singh, for use by him, his immediate family and up to three (3) of his friends, free coupons providing for dinners and pool playing privileges at any of its restaurants and clubs (total value of $250). The dates on which the coupons may be used are to be determined by Mr. Singh.
V. SCOPE AND TERM OF AGREEMENT
All provisions of this Agreement shall apply to F & K Management, Inc., its employees, agents and successors, and to anyone acting in whole or in part under the direction of F & K in connection with the treatment of and/or service to customers of the Hard Times Cafés, the Santa Fe Cue Clubs, and all other restaurants or places of entertainment owned, operated, managed, or staffed by F & K.
The provisions of this Agreement are effective immediately upon execution by the parties and shall remain in effect for three (3) years.
This Agreement may be modified at any time by written agreement of the parties. Any and all such written modifications shall be considered to be part of this Agreement.
VI. ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS
Upon any failure by F & K Management, Inc., whether willful or otherwise, to perform in a timely manner any act required by the Agreement, or in the event of any act by F & K violating any provision of this Agreement, the United States may initiate an action seeking to enforce this Agreement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or in any other appropriate federal district court. In any such action, the United States may petition the court to impose any remedy authorized by law or equity, including but not limited to an order requiring performance of an act, authorizing an extension of the duration of this Agreement, or awarding any damages, costs, and/or attorneys' fees which may be occasioned by the violation of this Agreement.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the parties shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of this Agreement and the United States will attempt to resolve any issues of noncompliance with F & K prior to initiating enforcement action pursuant to the Agreement.
It is so agreed and stipulated by the parties, this ______________________ day of ___________, 2003, as evidenced by the signatures of respective counsel below.
FOR THE UNITED STATES:
RALPH F. BOYD, JR.
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
|PAUL J. McNULTY
United States Attorney for the
Eastern District of Virginia
| JOAN A. MAGAGNA
JEANINE M. WORDEN
NANCY F. LANGWORTHY
Housing and Civil
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20350
Tel: (202) 616-8925
Fax: (202) 514-1116
RICHARD W. SPONSELLER
Assistant United States
2100 Jamieson Avenue
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
| FOR THE DEFENDANT:
Santa Fe Cue Club House Rules
In order to maintain the status of an upscale family billiards parlor, we kindly ask that our patrons behave in a polite and respectful manner and refrain from the following:
Males wearing Sleeveless or tank top shirts
Wide legged, excessively baggy jeans
Ripped, torn, or worn out cut off shorts, pants, or jeans
All hats and bandannas, excluding baseball caps and cowboys hats
Excessive or extreme visible piercings
Any clothing with lewd or obscene phrases or drawings
Smoking over or around pool tables
Placing cigarettes, food, drinks, or butts on pool rails
Management reserves the right to refuse service to any patron at their discretion!
SANTA FE CUE CLUB HOUSE RULES
In order to maintain the status of an upscale family billiards parlor, we kindly ask that our patrons behave in a polite and respectful manner and refrain from the following:
MALES WEARING SLEEVELESS OR TANK TOP SHIRTS;
Wearing wide legged, excessively baggy jeans;
Wearing ripped, torn, or worn out cut off shorts, pants, or jeans;
Wearing "do rags" or other head coverings or attire that signifies gang affiliation;
Wearing gang "colors," or other symbols of gang affiliation;
Wearing excessive or extreme visible piercings;
Wearing any clothing bearing lewd or obscene phrases or drawings;
Smoking over or around pool tables;
Placing cigarettes, food, drinks or butts on pool rails;
Using lewd or obscene language.
Management reserves the right to refuse service to any patron at its discretion!
All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of the Hard Times Café or Santa Fe Cue Club without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, disability, or national origin.
Nothing in these rules prohibits or restricts patrons from wearing head coverings or other articles of clothing in observance of their religion, or because of their national origin, on the premises. Persons wearing head coverings or other articles of clothing in observance of their religion or because of their national origin are entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of the café and club.
I have been given and I have read a copy of the Settlement Agreement executed by the United States and F & K Management on the _____ day of _____________, 2003. I understand the terms of the Agreement, and I further understand that federal law guarantees that no person may be denied, on account of their race, color, religion, or national origin the full use and enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of the Hard Times Cafés and Santa Fe Cue Clubs, or any other place of public accommodation. With that understanding, I agree that, as a condition of my providing goods and/or services on behalf of the Hard Times Cafés, Santa Fe Cue Clubs, and any other place of public accommodation, neither I nor any other person who serves as my agent in any capacity, shall discriminate in any manner on account of race, color, religion or national origin in the provision of such goods and/or services.
Under penalty of perjury,
(To be printed on F & K letterhead)
8823 Ridge Hollow Court
Springfield, Virginia 22152
Dear Mr. Singh:
I have learned belatedly that you were denied the privileges of our Springfield Cue Club on September 23, 2001, and I would like to take this opportunity to formally apologize to you on behalf of F & K Management, Inc. Our manager was wrong in telling you to remove your turban or leave the club, as he did, and I can only hope that you will not let the actions of one individual color your views of the Hard Times Cafés and Santa Fe Cue Clubs.
We welcome, without exception, patrons of all religions and national origins, including Sikhs and members of other religious groups who wear religious head coverings. We would like to invite you back as a patron of our Springfield club. Towards that end, enclosed please find coupons for free dining and pool playing at our club and restaurant for you, your family and friends. Please feel free to use these coupons whenever you wish; and if you do decide to patronize our club, please ask for me when you arrive as I would like to personally extend this apology to you in addition to this letter. If I had known of the problem sooner and how to reach you, I would have conveyed this apology to you in a more timely fashion.
1. "Do rags" are colored handkerchiefs sometimes associated with gangs.
2. The term, "public accommodation," as used in this Agreement, has the meaning set forth in Title II, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000(b).
3. F & K will send any proposed, new dress code to Joan A. Magagna, Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Civil Rights Division, Room 7002, 1800 "G" Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006. The correspondence shall include the following number: DJ# 167-79-257.
Document Executed: February 28, 2003 > >