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Club Settles Discrimination Suit

January 27, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A West Virginia nightclub that refused to admit blacks agreed to implement a non-discrimination policy under an agreement reached Tuesday with the Justice Department.

The agreement settles a lawsuit federal prosecutors filed in March against Images Nightclub in Kearneysville, a city in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle.

``We are pleased that the club has agreed to open its doors to everyone in the community,″ said Bill Lann Lee, the Justice Department’s acting assistant attorney general for civil rights. ``No one should be denied access to a restaurant or a nightclub simply because of the color of their skin.″

The settlement agreement, which will remain in effect for five years, requires the nightclub’s owners and operators to advertise its non-discrimination policy in local newspapers and post signs announcing that it does not discriminate on the basis of race.

Club employees also will undergo training in how to comply with the consent decree, which must be approved by a judge to become final. The decree was filed in federal court in Wheeling, W.Va., on Tuesday.

In its suit, federal prosecutors said African Americans who showed up at the club’s doors were falsely told that it was private and open only to members. But white customers were routinely admitted without regard to membership, Justice officials said.

Federal prosecutors became aware of the practice in April 1996, after a black couple filed a complaint.

``Everyone assumes that after 30 years that this sort of thing shouldn’t be happening anymore, and we’re glad that Images has agreed to comply with the law by making the club accessible to all,″ said William D. Wilmoth, the U.S. attorney in Wheeling.

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