Club owner issues public apology; other terms of agreement are confidential

Virginia Beach, VA-- The owner of a Virginia Beach nightclub accused of race discrimination in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Virginia has agreed to apologize to two would-be patrons and to other undisclosed terms of a settlement agreement.
“The ACLU of Virginia and our clients are very pleased with the apology and all other aspects of the agreement,” said ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Rebecca Glenberg.
In the summer of 2006, Kimberly Hines and Myron Evans, both African-American, were turned away from Kokoamos Island Bar, Grill and Yacht Club under a policy that denied entrance to persons wearing braids, twists, cornrows, or dreadlocks. After the policy came to light, the ACLU of Virginia asked Kokoamos’ owner Barry Davis to rescind it, informing him that it discriminated on the basis of race because African-Americans were far more likely to wear the banned hairstyles than persons of other races.
When Davis refused, the ACLU in January 2007 filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Norfolk alleging that the policy violated federal civil rights laws. The lawsuit sought injunctive relief, damages for Hines and Evans, and attorneys’ fees. About nine months later, the U.S. Department of Justice also filed a lawsuit against Davis and Kokoamos.
Davis ceased to enforce the policy after the ACLU filed suit, but other objectives of the lawsuit had not been addressed.
The settlement agreement contains the following statement from Davis: “I wish to apologize for myself and for Kokoamos for the embarrassment and humiliation that Ms. Hines and Mr. Evans suffered because of any actions on our part that led to the filing of this lawsuit.”
Today’s announcement comes less than a month after Davis agreed to terms with the Department of Justice. Under the DOJ settlement, Davis will post and enforce a non-discriminatory dress code policy at Kokoamos; he will implement a system for receiving and investigating complaints of discrimination; and, he will conduct monitoring to ensure that Kokoamos’ employees are acting in a non-discriminatory manner consistent with federal law.
“This is how justice should work in a nation that demands equal treatment for all citizens,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “The racially discriminatory policy is gone, a public apology has been issued, and Kokoamos will be monitored to make certain this does not happen again.”
A copy of the ACLU of Virginia complaint can be found at http://www.acluva.org/docket/pleadings/kokoamos_complaint.pdf

Contacts: Kent Willis or Rebecca Glenberg, (office) 804/644-8022

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