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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Two Polynesian men who sued a Salt Lake City bar where they said they were refused service because of their ethnicity have agreed to settle their lawsuit for about $2,500 each.
Frank Maea and Stephen Wily agreed to the settlement Wednesday following an incident in February in which they said a bartender at Willie’s Lounge told them that she couldn’t serve them because they were Polynesian, based on instructions from the owner.
Willie’s Lounge has also agreed to pay about $2,500 for attorney’s fees, post a copy of its non-discrimination policy in a prominent spot and give both men a copy of all news releases and public apologies posted by the bar, according to court documents.
“My clients are very satisfied with the outcome,” said Dustin Lance, attorney for Maea and Wily. He said he couldn’t provide any other information because of confidentiality rules.
Maea said in a previous media interview that after they entered Willie’s Lounge and ordered a drink, the bartender checked his ID and asked if he was Polynesian. When he confirmed that he was, she said she couldn’t serve him.
Geremy Cloyd, the bar’s owner, has said in the past that he wishes he could take back what happened.
Cloyd said he has an informal rule allowing female bartenders working alone at night to turn away people who look like they could make trouble, and he acknowledged that he has included Polynesian people in that category.
“White people too, you just don’t hear about them,” Cloyd said. “Whether they are Polynesian, just got out of jail, have neck tattoos, look like they are hooked on drugs, across all spectrums, not just Polynesians. It just so happens, our problem has been with Polynesians.”
Maea and friend Stephen Wily said that bars do have the right to refuse service to people making trouble, but they were calm and civil.
“We’re pleased with the resolution, and we’re happy to move on,” said Gregory Skordas, the bar’s attorney. He said he could not comment on the terms of the agreement because they are confidential.
The Salt Lake City area has a relatively large community of people of Polynesian descent. Originally drawn to Utah by Mormon missionaries in the 19th century, the state today has nearly 27,000 people who identify as being Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, census figures show. That’s more than every state other than California, Hawaii and Washington.