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Too young?
December 8, 2010 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Can bars/clubs in Portland, OR legally enforce a minimum age (other than drinking age) for patrons?

I was looking at options for a party a few weeks ago, and one of the places that was recommended has a policy of not letting in anybody under the age of 26 on weekends (which most of us are). I'm not going to be pressing the issue since there are plenty of good alternatives that won't turn away my friends, but it really made me wonder if this could be legal. I was under the impression that age is a protected class when it comes to public accommodation, but does this not apply to certain kinds of businesses, or am I misunderstanding the law?
posted by OverlappingElvis to Law & Government (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I am not a lawyer. I am not even a drinker. But I assume the place makes it easier for themselves by drawing that sort of line so that a 23 year old doesn't get a drink for a 17 year old etc in a party of 12 people. Can they do it legally? Why not? It is a private business and they can set rules so long as they do not discriminate openly (color, gender etc)
posted by Postroad at 10:18 AM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clarification: Under Oregon's liquor laws, bars can't let in anybody under 21 anyway (and virtually all of them in Portland card aggressively).
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:23 AM on December 8, 2010


Age discrimination in employment is only federally prohibited against those over 40. I have never heard of any prohibition against age discrimination in public accomodation. I don't know anything about Oregon law.
posted by enn at 10:24 AM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I should add that I've seen many bars with similar policies here in Chicago.
posted by enn at 10:26 AM on December 8, 2010


Discrimination in Public Accommodation
A place of public accommodation is defined in state law as any place that offers the public accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges, whether in the nature of goods, services, lodging, amusements or otherwise. It is illegal to discriminate in places of public accommodation on the basis of race, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, national origin, religion, marital status, physical or mental disability, or age (18 years of age and older).

How easy it is to file a complaint and get it resolved in your favor I don't know, but according to the Oregon Civil Rights Division they might well be breaking the law. I know that complaints have been made about ladies nights and such promotions constituting sex discrimination, but different jurisdictions have decided those cases differently.
posted by TedW at 10:27 AM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Definitely not legal. They should dissuade young people the old fashioned way: reliquary music and loads of creepy older guys.
posted by Hurst at 10:42 AM on December 8, 2010


Clearly age descrimination... but, probably worth fighting only with your pocketbook...do you want to give money to a place that does this anyway?

I was once denied entrance to a club in Toledo Ohio because my hair was too long.. welcome to 1969!

Served me right for going to Toledo anyway!
posted by HuronBob at 10:56 AM on December 8, 2010


According to that, bars are not allowed to refused people that are under 21, either?
posted by inigo2 at 10:56 AM on December 8, 2010


FWIW, over the years I've known plenty of places here in NYC that do the same thing.
posted by JaredSeth at 11:00 AM on December 8, 2010


Well, if they state the practice than maybe not, kinda like a landlord advertising that they won't rent to anyone with kids or something. On the other hand, bars (and landlords) can refuse service to anyone for any or no reason, so in that way they can do whatever they want.
posted by cmoj at 11:03 AM on December 8, 2010


According to that, bars are not allowed to refused people that are under 21, either?

In Oregon, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission would say otherwise. Not remembering the exact wording, it's basically: No one under 21 permitted except in case of emergency.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:30 AM on December 8, 2010


There have been any number of challenges to lady's nights on this basis that usually fail.
posted by Lame_username at 11:50 AM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now I'm curious as to which bar it is...
posted by togdon at 12:30 PM on December 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


"In Oregon, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission would say otherwise. Not remembering the exact wording, it's basically: No one under 21 permitted except in case of emergency."

I don't know about Oregon, but in some states, if they're a bar only, they're allowed to exclude under-21s on the grounds that their business is illegal for under-21s to participate in/purchase from, which is generally a permissible restriction; if your business is illegal for certain people to purchase/participate in, it makes sense to not allow those individuals into the facility. That's a pretty rational restriction.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:29 PM on December 8, 2010


I have a server's permit in Oregon and there's quite a bit in the test about discrimination in terms of who can be "cut off" and who can be denied entry or asked to leave an establishment. Nothing that I can recall that would explicitly allow or deny this kind of discrimination. I suppose these folks are just in "cover your butt" land -- perhaps they've had some recent, expensive problems with underage drinkers.

The OLCC is on twitter -- why not ask them? I'm really surprised in this economy that a person who is trying to arrange an organized party would be turned away. (Really curious who it is!)
posted by amanda at 2:03 PM on December 8, 2010


if you want to be really technical, you CAN get into bars in oregon if you're under 21 - if you are married to another guest who is over 21. you still can't drink inside, though.
posted by efalk at 3:50 PM on December 8, 2010


Are you sure they actually turn away anyone under 26? I've been to lots of places with signs saying "we card everyone 25 and under," just to make sure any 16-year-olds who look 21 don't slip past the bouncer.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:15 PM on December 8, 2010


(To clarify: An actual 21-year-old would still be allowed in.)
posted by Sys Rq at 4:24 PM on December 8, 2010


For an organized party I would be surprised if they turned you away.

That being said, I support the turning away of people under 23, it keeps out the issues that occur with people that are 1) immature, and 2) new to drinking out socially. I wish you the best but if I owned the business I might have the same policy
posted by zombieApoc at 5:40 PM on December 8, 2010


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