U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Adult Entertainment Club Fired Manager Who Objected to Ban on Hiring African-Americans and Terminated African-American Bartender Due to Race
TAMPA, Fla. - A Clearwater, Fla., adult entertainment club and its parent company violated federal law by firing an African-American employee on the basis of race and later retaliating against a manager who objected to the racism by terminating him. The company must pay over $365,000 in total monetary relief according to the default judgment entered on August 11, 2015, by Hon. Virginia M. Hernandez Covington, U.S. District Judge.
EEOC alleged Bliss Cabaret and its successor corporation, Executive Gentlemen's Club, fired Quatavia Harden from her employment as a Bliss Cabaret bartender because its owner, Michael Tomkovich, did not want a black bartender working at the club. Patrick Franke, the Bliss Cabaret manager who hired Harden, opposed and refused to participate in the discriminatory conduct and was suspended and then terminated as a result.
EEOC later added Southeast Showclubs, LLC, the parent company, as a defendant also liable for the discriminatory conduct. Michael Tomkovich owns and operates a chain of adult entertainment clubs located throughout Florida, which include Bliss Cabaret and its successor Executive, through Southeast Showclubs, LLC.
The acts at issue violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and also prohibits retaliation for opposing unlawful practices. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. AJ 3860, LLC, d/b/a The Executive Gentlemen's Club, and Southeast Showclubs, LLC, Civ. No. 8:14-cv-1621-T-33TGW ) in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida after first attempting to settle the matter informally through its conciliation process.
All defendants failed to respond to the EEOC's allegations and thus, based on that failure, the Court determined defendants to be liable for discriminatory conduct and awarded EEOC significant relief in their absence, including monetary relief totaling $365,024.47, including punitive damages, compensatory damages, back pay, interest, and tax penalty offsets for Mr. Franke and Ms. Harden. Additionally, the Court granted injunctive relief requiring defendants' multiple adult entertainment clubs to cease their discriminatory practices, to adopt non-retaliation and non-discrimination policies, and to report applicant flow and hiring data for EEOC to monitor compliance.
"Stopping blatant discriminatory hiring such as this is crucial," explained EEOC Regional Attorney Robert E. Weisberg. "This employer implemented discriminatory policies at all levels of management, then retaliated against the one manager who opposed such policies. Such conduct flies in the face of the anti-discrimination laws EEOC enforces."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information is available at