Bar owner accused of discriminating against transgender patrons

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Labor commission officials filed discrimination charges against Portland's Twilight Room Annex following a lengthy investigation that revealed the bar discriminated against transgender patrons.

Commissioner Brad Avakian on Tuesday filed the formal charges against the bar, formerly known as the P Club.

The charges follow a highly publicized investigation that found bar owner Chris Penner had left phone messages asking a group of transgender patrons to stop visiting the bar because he didn't want the P Club to be known as a "tranny bar."

The charges were filed because the commission and bar did not reach a settlement, according to a press release from the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries.

Penner had contended the group, known as the Rose City T-Girls, disrupted business; however, labor investigators found no evidence to support that.

Investigators found Penner did not notify the group of any complaints about their behavior and, instead, blocked them from coming to the bar.

Oregon state law protects anyone from discrimination because of sexual orientation, but that's not just about sexual preference. It also covers gender identity.

The charges are the first commissioner's complaint filed under the landmark 2007 Oregon Equality Act, a law to protect the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender Oregonians in employment, housing and public places.

Reached Tuesday afternoon by telephone, Penner declined comment to KATU.