Chicago Club, Students Reach Settlements

The owners of Chicago's the Original Mother's nightclub reached a settlement Wednesday with six African-American college students from St. Louis who said the club used a dress code banning baggy pants to racially profile them, and denied them entrance. The club's dress code bans oversized or baggy clothing, athletic wear, jerseys and work boots.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Now, an update on the story we told you about yesterday. The owners of the Chicago nightclub, Mother's, reached a settlement late today with six African American college students from St. Louis. They claim they were discriminated against when the bar's bouncer wouldn't allow them to enter the club.

NPR's David Schaper has been reporting on the story. He joins us now from Chicago. And David, this complaint has to do with a dress code.

DAVID SCHAPER: Right. The students were from Washington University in St. Louis on a senior class trip to Chicago over their fall break about a week and a half ago. They had prearranged and prepaid for this party at the Original Mother's, it's a nightclub in Chicago's trendy Gold Coast neighborhood.

It was Saturday night, October 17th, and the six African American students say they were denied entry at the bar, and a bouncer and the manager told them they were in violation of the bar's dress code, which prohibits baggy jeans. The students claim white customers, including some of their classmates with baggy jeans were allowed in. They say they offered to change their clothes, but the bar's manager said they still wouldn't be allowed in. And one student even traded pants with a fellow student who was white, and the white student was then allowed in wearing the same baggy jeans that had previously been cited as being too baggy while being worn by the black student.

The students had filed complaints with the Justice Department, the Illinois Attorney General's Office, the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, and the Anti-Defamation League got involved, the Chicago Urban League. Washington University has backed up their students, and several Chicago universities have taken up their cause as well.

BLOCK: And now, an agreement with the nightclub, Mother's. What is the agreement? Do we know?

SCHAPER: Well, the students claim that they did not ask for money at all. What they say they want and will get is a public and private apology from the bar. The students say the bar's management company has agreed to provide diversity training to all of its managers at all of its clubs. In addition, the students say Mother's personnel will participate and even speak at an upcoming anti-discrimination rally in March in Chicago. The details are still being worked out on that.

The students also say that Mother's will host four fundraisers that will benefit charities of the student's choice. Details on those are still being worked out, but the large management group which owns Mother's confirms that there is an agreement with the students in place.

BLOCK: Okay. Thank you, David. NPR's David Schaper in Chicago.

SCHAPER: Thank you, Melissa.

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