Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

FREEWAY CLUB, INC.; and
ROBERT WATKINS,
     Defendants.

______________________________


CONSENT DECREE

The United States brings this action under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000a to 2000a-6 ("Title II"), alleging that Defendants discriminated in the operation of the Freeway Club against African-American persons on the basis of race and color.

Defendant Freeway Club, Inc. presently owns and operates a nightclub called the Freeway Club (hereinafter "the Club"), located at 3417 Highway 31 South in Decatur, Alabama. Defendant Robert Watkins is the manager of the Freeway Club and oversees its day-to-day operations and admissions policies.

In the Complaint, the United States alleges that Defendants have engaged in a pattern and practice of denying African Americans, on the basis of race and color, the full use and enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of the Club. More specifically, the United States alleges that Defendants have refused to admit African-American persons on the same terms and conditions on which Caucasian patrons are admitted, including, but not limited to, requiring two forms of picture identification from African Americans but not Caucasians, and otherwise discouraging African-American persons from attending the Club.

For the purposes of establishing jurisdiction, the parties stipulate that at all times relevant to the allegations of the United States, the Freeway Club is a "place of public accommodation" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 2000a(b)(3), and its operations "affect commerce" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 2000a(c).

Defendants have agreed that, in order to resolve the disputed claims in this action between the parties and to avoid protracted and costly litigation, and for no other reason, this matter should be resolved without further litigation through the terms of this Consent Decree. Without a trial or adjudication on the merits, the United States and Defendants have consented to the entry of this Decree.

Part I of this Order prohibits conduct by Defendants in violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000a et seq., with respect to the operation of the Club as well as any other place of public accommodation as defined under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in which Defendants presently have, or subsequently acquire, an ownership or management interest. Part II of this Order describes a compliance plan designed to ensure future adherence to federal law in addition to notifying prospective customers of the Club that the owners and operators make the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations offered at the Club available to all persons without regard to their race or color. Part III provides terms for the administration of this Order.

THE UNITED STATES' CONTENTIONS

The United States' Complaint in this action alleges the following:

  1. Defendant Freeway Club, Inc. owns the business establishment known as the "Freeway Club" located at 3417 Highway 31 South, in Decatur, Alabama. Defendant Robert Watkins is the manager who oversees the day-to-day operations of the Freeway Club, including its admissions policy.
  2. The Freeway Club is a nightclub facility which provides entertainment and is open to the public for a fee.
  3. Defendants implemented a policy and practice of denying to African-American persons, on account of race and/or color, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges of the Club on the same basis as Defendants make those goods, services, facilities, and privileges available to non-African-American persons. This policy and practice was implemented, among other ways, by requiring African-American patrons to produce two forms of picture identification for admission, but requiring only one form of picture identification from Caucasian patrons.
  1. PROHIBITIVE INJUNCTION

It is hereby, ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that Defendants Freeway Club, Inc. and Robert Watkins, their agents, employees, successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them in the ownership and operation of the Club (located at 3417 Highway 31 South, in Decatur, Alabama), or of any other business or entity within the coverage of Title II in which Defendants presently have, or subsequently acquire, an ownership or management interest, are permanently enjoined from:

  1. Failing or refusing to admit any person on account of race, color, religion or national origin, to the premises of such establishment;
  2. Denying to any person, because of race, color, religion or national origin, the full and equal enjoyment of all of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of such establishment;
  3. Discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin, in the terms, conditions, or privileges of admission to such establishment, or, because of race, color, religion or national origin, providing different information about the terms, conditions, or privileges of admission;
  4. Denying or deterring admission to such establishment to any person because of race, color, religion or national origin, by adopting any practices or procedures in the management of such establishment designed to discourage persons on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin, from patronizing such establishment.
  1. AFFIRMATIVE REMEDIES

It is FURTHER ORDERED that:

  1. Within 15 days of the date of entry of this Order, Defendants shall erect and maintain at each public entrance to the Club, or any other business or entity which falls within the coverage of Title II in which Defendants presently have, or subsequently acquire, an ownership or management interest, a printed sign stating in block letters at least two inches high that the establishment is open to all members of the public without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. Such sign shall be printed in dark letters on a contrasting background and shall be located in a place clearly visible to all patrons as they enter the premises. Such sign shall include a statement that any person who believes he or she has been discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin should write or call the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington D.C. 20530, telephone number (800) 896-7743. The text for such sign is specified in Attachment A.

  2. Within sixty (60) days of the date of entry of this Order or such date that the parties agree is mutually satisfactory in light of the availability of the training resources anticipated by this paragraph, Defendants and their employees or agents with responsibility for the management and provision of services at the Freeway Club, or any other business or entity covered by this Consent Decree, shall attend a program of educational training concerning the substantive provisions of federal, state, and local civil rights laws, regulations, or ordinances, applicable to public accommodations, and their responsibilities under such laws. The parties will mutually agree upon who shall conduct this training which shall not be less than three hours in duration. The costs of this program shall be born by Defendants. All persons attending such a program shall have their attendance certified in writing by the person conducting the educational program.

  3. Defendants shall, no later than ten days after entry of this Order, appraise each of their employees, agents, or partners, of the contents of this Order and their obligations under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Defendants shall furnish each such employee, agent, or partner with a copy of this Order. Each such employee, agent, or partner shall sign a sworn statement in the form of Attachment B, as prescribed herein no later than five days following their first day of employment.

  4. In the event that Defendants allow others to utilize the Club, including persons who may rent or otherwise negotiate for use of the building, Defendants shall inform such persons that they may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin. Defendants shall also obtain from them, as a condition of their use of the building, a sworn statement in the form of Attachment C agreeing that they shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin. If such third parties, despite this statement, discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin, in their use of the facilities at the Club, Defendants shall take action to discontinue the use of the Club by such third parties.

  5. In order to ensure that all persons are made aware that the Club will admit persons of all races and to overcome any legacy that may stem from Defendants' alleged prior discriminatory practices, Defendants shall, at least once a month for the first six (6) months from the date of entry of this Consent Decree, place advertisements in local newspapers or other print media, including but not limited to the Decatur Daily. These advertisements shall be no less than one eighth of one page of the relevant newspaper or other print media and shall indicate among other information that the Freeway Club is open to all members of the public on an equal basis, without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin. The text for the advertisement is specified in Attachment D.

  6. Defendants shall, no later than 60 days after the date of entry of this Order, serve a report evidencing their compliance with this Order to counsel for the United States. (1) This report shall consist of the following:
    1. A photograph of each public entrance to the Freeway Club, or any similar public accommodation operated by Defendants, clearly showing the signs required under paragraph II.A of this Order;
    2. A list of all advertisements, if any, as required under paragraph II.E of this Order, made public in any manner since the entry of this Order, together with representative samples of such advertisements;
    3. The sworn statements signed by any and all employees pursuant to paragraph II.C of this Order; and
    4. Written certification by the person conducting the educational program referred to in section II.B.

  7. Six months after the date of entry of this Order, and every six months thereafter for three (3) years from the date of entry of this Order, Defendants shall serve upon counsel for the United States a written report evidencing continuing compliance with this order. This report shall contain the following information:
    1. Representative samples of all advertising for the previous six-month period, as required by paragraph II.E above;
    2. Sworn employee statements of new employees as required by paragraph II.C;
    3. All documents obtained from persons who rent or otherwise use the buildings, as required by paragraph II.D;
    4. Any written complaint, and, to the best of their ability, any oral complaint which comes to the attention of Defendants, either personally or through their managers, officers, directors or shareholders, or employees, involving any discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin at the Freeway Club, and/or any other business or entity which falls within the coverage of Title II in which Defendants presently have, or subsequently acquire, an ownership or management interest. If the complaint is written, Defendants shall provide a photocopy of the complaint. If the complaint is oral, Defendants shall either direct the complainant to fill out the form at Attachment E, or if the complaint is made over the telephone, Defendants, their agents or employees shall fill out the form at Attachment E with information provided over the telephone by the complainant. Defendants shall provide photocopies of any oral complaints recorded in this fashion. Defendants shall also report any action taken or proposed by Defendants in response to any such written or oral complaints.
    5. Information regarding any change in the location of Defendants' operation of the Freeway Club or any place of public accommodation as defined by Title II in which Defendants presently have, or subsequently acquire, an ownership or management interest, including the address of any new location, the dates of operation, and the name of any new establishment;
    6. Notification of counsel for the United States of any new ownership or management interest Defendants have acquired or developed in any place of public accommodation, as defined in Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, during the preceding six-month period. Such notification shall include the name of the establishment in which Defendants have acquired or developed such interest, the address of such establishment, the goods and/or services provided by such establishment, and the dates of operation of such establishment. Upon reasonable request, Defendants shall provide to the United States copies of pertinent records or documents; and
    7. Notification of counsel for the United States whether, during the preceding six-month period, Defendants have either ceased operating, or have licensed their name to others for the purpose of operating the Club or any place of public accommodation, as defined in Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in which Defendants have an ownership or management interest. Upon reasonable request, Defendants shall provide to the United States copies of pertinent records or documents.
  1. ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS

This Court shall retain jurisdiction of this case for purposes of enforcing this Consent Order. The parties shall endeavor to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation and compliance with this Order prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution. Before any party brings such a matter to the Court, the moving party shall file with the Court a certification that the parties have conferred in an attempt to resolve the dispute. Defendants may move for dismissal of this case with prejudice at any time after 60 days have elapsed from the date of the last report required under this Consent Order is due, or has been served on the United States, whichever is later.

It is so ORDERED this ____ day of __________________, 2002.

_____________________________
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE


Agreed to by the parties as indicated by the signatures below:

FOR THE UNITED STATES:

ISABELLE M. THABAULT
Deputy Chief
THOMAS J. KEARY
WINIFRED KAO
Attorneys
Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section (NWB)
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Tel: (202) 616-9747
Fax: (202) 514-1116

JOHN C. BELL
Assistant U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
1801 Fourth Avenue North
Birmingham, AL 35203-2101
Tel: (205) 244-2001
Fax: (205) 244-2171
AL Bar No. ASB-2408-L73J

FOR THE DEFENDANTS:

JAMES R. LOWERY
ROBERT WATKINS
FREEWAY CLUB INC.


ATTACHMENT A
NOTICE

THE FREEWAY CLUB IS OPEN EQUALLY TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ABOVE THE AGE OF 21 WITHOUT REGARD TO THEIR RACE, COLOR, RELIGION, NATIONAL ORIGIN OR ANY OTHER CLASSIFICATION PROTECTED BY LAW.

WE ARE COMMITTED TO ENSURING THAT ALL MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ARE TREATED EQUALLY AND APPROPRIATELY AND WE EMPHASIZE THAT EVERYONE IS INVITED AND WELCOME TO ENJOY THE ENTERTAINMENT AT THE FREEWAY CLUB.

IT IS AGAINST THE LAW FOR A PLACE OF PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION TO DISCRIMINATE ON THE BASIS OF RACE, COLOR, RELIGION OR NATIONAL ORIGIN. IF YOU FEEL YOU HAVE BEEN DISCRIMINATED AGAINST AT THE FREEWAY CLUB ON THE BASIS OF YOUR RACE, COLOR, RELIGION OR NATIONAL ORIGIN, YOU SHOULD WRITE OR CALL THE CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION OF THE UNITED STATES JUSTICE DEPARTMENT:

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION
HOUSING & CIVIL ENFORCEMENT SECTION (NWB)
950 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE, N.W.
WASHINGTON, DC 20530
1-800-896-7743


ATTACHMENT B

I have been given and I have read a copy of the Consent Decree entered in United States of America v. Freeway Club, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. _____________. I understand the terms of that Decree, 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 a place such as the Freeway Club. With that understanding, I agree that, as a condition of my providing services on behalf of the Freeway Club or any other place of public accommodation owned or managed by James Watkins or Freeway Club, Inc., 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 services.

_________________________
Name

_________________________
Home Address
_________________________
Home Telephone Number
_________________________
Date


ATTACHMENT C

I understand the terms of that Decree, 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 a place such as the Freeway Club. With that understanding, I agree that, as a condition of my rental or use of the Freeway Club, neither I nor any other person who is employed by me or serves as my agent in any capacity, shall discriminate in any manner on account of race, color, religion, or national origin in my use of the Freeway Club. I understand that any denial on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin, of the full use and enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of the leased premises of the Freeway Club would constitute an element of default and breach of the lease, which would entitle the lessor to terminate the lease and reenter the premises of the Freeway Club.

_________________________
Name

_________________________
Home Address
_________________________
Home Telephone Number
_________________________
Date


ATTACHMENT D
ADVERTISEMENT

THE FREEWAY CLUB IS OPEN TO ALL PERSONS WITHOUT REGARD TO THEIR RACE, COLOR, RELIGION, NATIONAL ORIGIN OR ANY OTHER CLASSIFICATION PROTECTED BY LAW. We are committed to ensuring that all members of the public are treated equally and appropriately, and we emphasize that EVERYONE is invited and welcome to enjoy the entertainment at:

THE FREEWAY CLUB
3417 Highway 31 South
Decatur, Alabama


ATTACHMENT E COMPLAINT OF DISCRIMINATION

Complainant Information:

Name:

Address:

Telephone:

Social Security Number:

Please describe in detail the alleged discriminatory conduct. Be sure to include information about the alleged action, who was involved, when it occurred, and where. Please also identify any witnesses to the conduct, with their phone numbers and addresses. Please use reverse side or additional sheets if necessary.

This form was completed by:

Date:

(If this form was completed by a Freeway Club agent or employee, please indicate job title.)


1. The report should be sent to United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Housing & Civil Enforcement Section (NWB), Att: DJ # 167-1-226, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20530, as well as via fax to (202) 514-1116.


Document Filed: May 13, 2002.

Document Entered: May 23, 2002. > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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