SACRAMENTO — A midtown Sacramento sports bar’s dress code policy is under scrutiny from members of the community who say it is unfairly targeting young men of color.
The organization Sacramento for Black Lives has been questioning whether Barwest’s dress code intentionally prohibits clothing items that men of color wear to keep them out.
“If you are putting out a list like that that is very implicit in biases, you have to then begin to analyze what the motivation is,” said Sonia Lewis with Sacramento for Black Lives. “Solid color T-shirt, sweatpants, joggers. Those are typical things of young men and young black men.”
The dress code also says patrons cannot wear grills, chains, baggy clothes and sportswear.
Barwest is not the only place in town with a dress code but, ironically, it is the place where Black Lives Matter used to meet up weekly to discuss business.
“It looks like they’re just pinpointing males specifically,” said Anika Morales.
Morales said she went to Barwest with two male friends wearing plain white T-shirts and neither one was let in.
“It’s not fair. I don’t think it’s fair, especially for a bar. It doesn’t seem like it would be appropriate,” she told FOX40.
Constitutional law professor John Sims said no California law prevents restaurants and bars from establishing dress codes.
But there is some gray area.
“Discrimination is illegal,” Sims said. “If the face of the policy is race neutral, then you would need to prove that it was discriminatory.”
Sacramento for Black Lives said they will be reaching out to management this week to discuss the issue.
Trevor Shults, the owner of Barwest, sent a statement to FOX40 on Wednesday:
We are a midtown bar that caters to the midtown community, college students and the business community. In keeping with the safety of our guests we work with law enforcement and state regulators to ensure a safe environment for our guests. This includes keeping up to date with gang trends and preventing violence within our establishment.
Dress codes are a small part of creating an environment that our guest of all colors, ages and orientation feel safe and relaxed.
It is our company policy not to discriminate against any guest. We just ask that our policies, that are enforced with safety in mind, are followed. We welcome any discussion with the community that ensures the safety of our guests.
We are a night club and eating establishment. At a certain hour of the day we ask our guests to come in attire that is appropriate for going out.