Resolving Allegations Of Racial Discrimination After Harvard-Yale Football Game, Cure Lounge Makes Payment to Commonwealth, Issues Public Apology, And Staff Ordered to Attend Anti-Discrimination Training
The complaint and consent judgment resolve allegations that Cure Lounge abruptly and without merit shut down an event in November 2010 following the Harvard-Yale football game because a vast majority of the attendees were black.
View court documents filed by the Attorney General's Office:
AG Coakley and MCAD simultaneously filed the complaint and consent judgment today in Suffolk Superior Court to resolve a lawsuit against Paige Hospitality, Inc., the owner and operator of Cure Lounge. In the complaint, the AG's Office and MCAD allege that Cure Lounge violated the public accommodations and consumer protection laws by prematurely ending the event.
"Massachusetts businesses cannot refuse to host events because of racial reasons," Attorney General Coakley said. "In this case, club staff made harmful and ill-conceived conclusions based on the simple fact that most of the guests were black. This type of behavior is the essence of racial stereotyping and it is a reminder that, despite the many strides we have taken, there is still progress to be made."
MCAD Chairman Julian T. Tynes stated, "This was clearly a situation that would have been prevented with anti-discrimination training of the staff and employees of the club. Incidents such as this illuminate the ever present need for the proper training of employees and staff of public establishments in anti-discrimination training in places of public accommodation."
The complaint concerns an event hosted by three African-American graduates of Harvard College. The students organized an event at Cure Lounge in connection with the annual Harvard-Yale football game. Harvard alumni as well as graduate students from both Harvard and Yale received invitations to purchase tickets to the event. Approximately 400 people purchased tickets prior to the sold-out event.
According to the complaint, the event began at 10:00 p.m. on the evening of November 20, 2010. During the next hour, guests arrived and many entered Cure Lounge. There were no problems inside or outside of the club, yet at approximately 11:15 p.m., Cure Lounge abruptly ended the event and told all of the guests that they needed to leave. The vast majority of event guests who stood in line and who entered the club were black.
The Massachusetts Public Accommodation law, G.L. c. 272 §§ 92A, 98, prohibits places of public accommodation from restricting entry or limiting use and enjoyment of such locations to persons on the basis of their race, gender, and national origin, among other things. The Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, G.L. c. 93A, § 2(a), outlaws unfair and deceptive practices in trade or commerce.
Under the terms of the consent judgment, Paige Hospitality must comply with state and federal public accommodations and consumer protection laws, send its staff to annual anti-discrimination training, post and adhere to an approved anti-discrimination policy, and make a payment of $30,000 to the Commonwealth. The majority of those funds will be distributed at the Attorney General's discretion to entities that provide support for African-American students seeking higher education opportunities.
Following court approval of the consent judgment, Paige Hospitality is issuing a public apology, which will remain posted on the Cure Lounge website for the next thirty days. The public apology states as follows:
"The owners, managers and employees of Cure Lounge wish to extend our deepest apologies to all of those affected, both directly and indirectly, by the unfortunate events that occurred on the evening of November 20, 2010. Cure Lounge further apologizes for the statements made on its behalf by its public relations group in the days following the event. Those statements were uninformed and in no way reflect the values or beliefs of the owners, managers, and employees of Cure Lounge. Cure Lounge does not tolerate racism. Cure Lounge will abide with all of the conditions requested by the Attorney General and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Cure Lounge will do everything in its power to ensure that the events of November 20 will not be repeated."
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Elisha Jackson and Jonathan Miller of Attorney General Coakley's Civil Rights Division, with the assistance of Monique Cascarano of the Attorney General's Investigations Division and Detective John Maloof of the Boston Police Department's Community Disorders Unit. At the MCAD, this matter was handled by General Counsel Catherine Ziehl, Commission Counsel Wendy Cassidy and MCAD Investigator Keith Parrett. Chairman Julian Tynes presided at the MCAD Investigative Conference.