Restaurant slammed for 'racist' dress code

Elise Solé

A US restaurant has been slammed for its dress code, after allegations a customer was racially discriminated against for wearing sneakers.

El Centro D.F in Washington DC has since fired a bouncer and reversed its policy after a black man, Brian Gordon was stopped from entering because of his leather Converse high-tops.

According to the Root, Gordon was not allowed into the restaurant because the bouncer objected to his footwear.

Brian Gordon was refused entry to El Centro D.F in Washington DC. Photo: Facebook

“They’re not like ratty, dirty sneakers,” Gordon later told the Washington Post. “They’re brand new; they’re leather. They were clean, fresh, white. It’s not like I showed up in five-year-old Chucks.”

Outside, Gordon texted his friend Yesha Callahan, a deputy managing editor at the Root, who was inside the venue and who noted a detail about the other patrons.

“…right before my very own eyes, was a group of white men wearing - you guessed it -sneakers,” she wrote.

He was not allowed in wearing similar shoes. Photo: Converse

“Not only were the three white guys posted at the bar in sneakers, but there were also three other men on the dance floor wearing various styles of sneakers.

“Since it was still early in the night, there was a total of about nine people in the basement bar area, not including the bartenders, and it was pretty easy to assess everyone’s footwear.”

Callahan and her friends knew the bartender who intervened on Gordon’s behalf and he was ultimately allowed entry.

The restaurant has since fired the bouncer involved and reversed its dress code policy, managing partner Ayyaz Rashid told the Root.

“Furthermore, there will be no dress code applied anymore at all. Not to stop there, I am scheduling a training workshop for the rest of the team to make sure such incidents may never happen again,” he said.

Places might have dress codes for a variety of reasons. Photo: Getty

Business owners might say dress codes play up an atmosphere or promote a certain image, but they may have other implications people aren't aware of.

“Sometimes dress codes have practical implications to avoid safety issues that customers aren’t always aware of, but it can be problematic when a banned look is associated with a marker of identity or a particular movement,” Vickie M. Mays, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

“Then what you’re saying is, ‘That look doesn’t fit.'

“We need to ask, ‘What is the purpose of the rule and does it achieve the outcome that you fear?’ If an establishment is trying to prevent people from committing a crime, for example, banning baggy pants won’t achieve that.”

Gordon insists that he’s not opposed to a no-sneakers rule, “but if it’s not being applied universally, then it’s a problem.”

He also received an apology from El Centro D.F. but he told the Post, “I don’t really have any interest in returning to a restaurant that clearly doesn’t want me or anyone who looks like me.”

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