UPDATE: An attorney for Redline sports bar says Judge Reggie Walton has postponed the proceedings until early 2016, citing his calendar.
A federal judge in DC will hear arguments next year in a civil-rights case stemming from allegations that the Redline sports bar in Chinatown “implemented discriminatory policies” that denied employment and even patronage to black people. The plaintiff, Briggitta Hardin, claims that in 2011, she was hired and trained as a bartender but promptly fired by the restaurant’s owner, Mick Dadlani, on the basis of her skin color.
Hardin’s complaint, first filed in November 2011 and since amended, alleges that she was hired around the time the restaurant opened in November 2010 but fired the following month when she met Dadlani. Hardin had also been working as a bartender at Bar Louie, inside the Gallery Place shopping complex across Seventh Street, Northwest, from Redline, and sought additional employment to pay for her tuition at Howard University.
After accepting the bartending gig at Redline and being trained at the soon-to-open restaurant, Hardin finally met Dadlani shortly before it opened for business, the complaint states.
“On December 2, 2010, Ms. Hardin arrived at Redline to assist in preparing the venue for its “Grand Opening” and work her scheduled shift,” the document reads. “Upon entering the restaurant, she encountered Redline owner/manager Mick Dadlani. Ms. Hardin had not met Dadlani up to that point, as her hiring and training had been carried out by other Redline staff. Ms. Hardin introduced herself and extended her hand to greet Dadlani, but Dadlani refused to touch her hand. Instead, Dadlani looked Ms. Hardin up and down with visible disgust and walked away, appearing angered by her presence.”
Hardin says a Redline manager informed her “within the hour” that she was fired. The suit also states she was the restaurant’s only black employee at the time and was replaced by a white employee.
The suit against Redline claims Hardin’s dismissal was one step in a “broader scheme of discriminatory exclusion,” that also allegedly included Dadlani prohibiting managers from making personnel decisions without his clearance and turning down every person who responded to job posting on Craigslist after most of the applicants were black.
Hardin’s suit goes on to accuse Dadlani and Redline of closing the bar early and inventing guest lists to drive away black patronage. The complaint claims one such incident came in May 2011 when the restaurant was packed with a largely African-American crowd watching an NBA post-season game, and Dadlani allegedly declared “last call” an hour before the scheduled closing time.
“Dadlani said that he wanted to get “them” out and make sure they had a horrible time so that ‘they’ would not return,” the complaint reads. “The former employees were uniform in their understanding that by ‘them,’ Dadlani was referring to the African-American patrons in Redline.
In their answer to Hardin’s complaint, filed in February 2012, Dadlani and Redline deny the allegations throughout, although Dadlani’s attorney declined to give specifics.
“As the litigation is pending, we cannot respond to any of the specific factual allegations,” the lawyer, Sundeep Hora, tells Washingtonian in an email. “Mr. Dadlani and Redline are pleased that they will finally be able to respond to the allegations in the Complaint and put this lawsuit behind them.”
Read Hardin’s amended complaint: