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Justice Department files discrimination lawsuit against Houston bar owner, operator

HOUSTON – Last September, the bar was accused of racial discrimination, and now a year later, the federal government has gotten involved.

On Wednesday, attorneys with the Department of Justice announced they filed a lawsuit against the owner of the 360 Midtown bar in midtown for allegedly trying to impose a cover charge for patrons who were black, Hispanic and Asian.

We spoke to the attorney representing one of the men in a civil suit who says he was discriminated against.

"This happened on Sept. 11, 2015, and that's supposed to be a day when Americans come together and we see no race and that we're together as one," says Ike Okorafor, an attorney representing plaintiff Brandon Ball. "However, last year on Sept. 11, Gaslamp did see color."

Shortly after last year's allegations, Channel 2 went undercover to investigate the discrimination claims against the bar then known as Gaslamp.

Lawsuits eventually were filed against the bar's owner, Ayman Jarrah, and his company, Land Guardian.

"We've disputed these allegations from the get-go, and the DOJ offered to settle with us," said Tim Sutherland, the attorney representing Jarrah. "We ultimately weren't able to come to terms so we're going to let it play out in the court system."

There is a separate civil suit against the bar that could be merged with this federal lawsuit.

The trial for now is set for January.


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