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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Sues Florida Gentlemen's Club for Racism

A Florida gentlemen's club -- Bliss Caberet in Clearwater -- is being sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a suit that alleges that the club's owner maintains racially discriminatory practices.

After a black bartender was hired, according to the suit, club owner Michael Tomkovich instructed a new manager to fire him immediately. The manager alleged there has a policy of not hiring black bartenders.

The manager was subsequently suspended and later fired. This isn't the first time Tomkovich has been sued.

In 2012, a man who claims he spent $625 at Bliss Caberet saw charges for more than $50,000 the next day with what he believes were faked signatures penned by those at the club. Curiously, the bartender named in the suit who handled the man's cards no longer worked by the time the suit came out and Tomkovich didn't respond to messages back then about it.

In 1997, a circuit judge ruled that Gold Club -- a Jacksonville gentlemen's club Tomkovich then owned -- was operating illegally, without a license or proper zoning.

"The city's wrong, but they don't want to admit they're wrong," he said back then. "They don't know how to get rid of me. That's what it boils down to."

The current suit says Tomkovich's practices violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits racial discrimination and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who object to discrimination.

"This suit is a reminder that federal civil rights laws' prohibitions against race discrimination apply to all types of businesses and industries," Robert E. Weisberg, the regional attorney for the Miami District Office, said in a release. "There is no exception under Title VII for 'gentlemen's clubs.'"

"The EEOC takes very seriously the obligation to protect people who object to illegal discrimination, even in instances, like here, where the person complaining is not personally being discriminated against," added Georgia Marchbanks, director of the Tampa Field Office.

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Ryan Cortes

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