Personal Injury: Pregnant Woman Protests Being Kicked Out of Bar
January 18, 2011
This is an interesting situation where there are conflicting interests for a business and private individuals. Here we have a business who has been proactive in attempting to reduce lawsuits… which has directly led to a lawsuit. On the one hand it is clear that the business wants only to protect itself against possible litigation by preventing a situation where a possible birth defect could be blamed on it. The private individual has a right to be where she has chosen to be and has a right to expect not being discriminated against based on her gender and status as a pregnant woman.
So who is right? I think both entities are right–only thing is that the business should have put a sign up and made its policies perfectly clear and visible to everyone. Here, it appears that the employee has taken the matter into his own hands and acted on policies that were not clearly communicated to the patrons from the get go. Furthermore, the State of Illinois required signs are placing the patrons on notice that their presence in the bar while pregnant may be detrimental to the fetus (whether that is true or not is a separate and distinct question).
Under state law, bars are required to post a sign that states: “According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects.”
In Illinois, it is illegal to serve a guest who shows signs of intoxication, but it can also be illegal to deny service to a woman just because she is pregnant, said Sheila OGrady, president of the Chicago-based Illinois Restaurant Association, which offers training on responsible alcohol service. Chicago lawyer Martin Dolan, who handles civil rights and personal injury cases, said that a private bar may set its own rules, including behavior standards or a dress code, but that those rules must be established in advance and be obvious to customers, such as a visual posting. “The key to this is being able to justify the legitimate reason, not just pull something out of the air,” Dolan said.
The Cook County sheriffs department and Roselle police, who are called in as backup for incidents at the Coach House, said there are no local ordinances that ban pregnant women from bars.
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