Saturday, June 22, 2013
A Welsh bar owner in New York City has been found guilty after advertising for staff with knowledge of British culture and fined $2,500 for race discrimination by City Human Rights Commissioner
The owner of a Welsh bar in New York City has been fined $2,500 for race discrimination after he specified that potential employees must have a knowledge of British culture. Michael Colbert, 54, was ordered to appear in front of a human rights commission after he placed an ad requesting his new bar staff must have an interest in Britain. The job description posted on Craigslist read: “Energetic and enthusiastic men and women with an appreciation of craft beer, good food, whisky and real football (a.k.a. soccer). Being British definitely works in your favour - Being an ex-pat or lived in the UK - also a plus.” Soon after they places an ad they received a legal notice from the New York City Commission on Human Rights. The bar, it said, had violated discrimination law “by giving a preference to employment applicants based on their national origin.” A former carpenter, Michael moved to New York from Wrexham, North Wales over two decades ago. He and his wife Jennifer opened the bar in Brooklyn. Colbert explained: “We advertised for someone with a knowledge of Britain and Wales, the culture and the differences we have. We are looking for people with a certain skill set who will create the right atmosphere for people walking in. To create that nuanced Welsh thing within the pub. But somewhere along the writing of the advert we fell a foul of the authorities.” The city's authorities claimed that the ad was unfair to people of different nationalities. At a pre-trial conference the couple were ordered to pay a $2,500 fine issued by New York City's Commission of Human Rights. Jennifer said: “We are New York's only Welsh pub a fact that we are very proud of and we get thousands of Welsh visitors every year. We're introducing everybody to Welsh culture and telling them all about Wales. So it is imperative that our staff understand British culture. We are not looking to discriminate against anyone based on their culture but Brits have their own culture - we are not the same as Americans. And just because we all speak English doesn't mean Americans and Brits are interchangeable."