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Chippendales Agrees to Policy on Hiring, Admitting Blacks

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Times Staff Writer

Chippendales, the West Los Angeles nightclub that features male dancers, has agreed to an affirmative action program under which it pledges that blacks will make up 25% of all new employees, and it promises to make sure that blacks are allowed to enter the popular night spot, it was announced Monday.

In addition, the club agreed to do at least $500,000 in business with black merchants, beginning next year.

Los Angeles attorney A. Thomas Hunt, representing several blacks, said Chippendales also agreed to pay a total of $85,000 to blacks, not to exceed $250 to any individual, who can prove they were denied admission because of color.

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The agreement follows a two-year dispute in which several black law students at UCLA contended that the club imposed a racial quota on the number of black men admitted inside the club.

One 26-year-old law student, Don Gibson, said he was turned away twice in 1982 before he tried a third time with two white friends in October of that year. “I was asked to show a membership card and my friends were asked to show their driver’s license,” said Gibson, who lives about six blocks from the club.

His white friends were admitted but he was not, he said.

A black woman, Stephanie Smith, 37, of Los Angeles, said she was admitted several times when she was accompanied by girlfriends, but she was turned away when she came with her physician husband, who is also black, in October of 1982.

The club and its related businesses in California employ about 130 people, six of whom are black. However, Chippendales’ lawyer, Los Angeles attorney Bruce Nahin, said blacks make up about 14% of the work force at the club here, the Chippendales club in New York and the staff of the parent company, Easebe Enterprises Inc.

Nahin said the Los Angeles club has never discriminated against blacks and called occasions when blacks were denied admission “isolated incidents.” Figures on the club’s revenues were not immediately available, but the $500,000 yearly commitment to black businesses is a “substantial amount for the club,” Nahin said.

The agreement was reached Sunday after talks to avoid a class action lawsuit broke off late Friday.

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Nahin said the club resumed the talks Sunday because it could not afford the cost of a lengthy trial if blacks carried out their threat to sue. “We’d much rather spend money in the black community,” he said.

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