Thursday, January 13, 2011
Pregnant Woman Kicked Out of Bar
When Michelle Lee, 29, walked into her hometown bar in Roselle, Illinois, late last Thursday night she was feeling frumpy, tired and really, really big. Eight months pregnant with her first child, she'd flown into town that day from Denver to attend her baby shower and her friends had talked her into a night out. But her effort at late-night fun lasted a whopping 15 minutes. No sooner than Lee had arrived, a bouncer at the the Coach House Restaurant told her she had to leave; no pregnant women allowed.
"I was stunned," she said. "He said, 'If anything happened to you here, we would be responsible.'"
A manager at Coach House declined to comment, saying he wasn't on duty when the incident occurred. The manager and bouncer involved in ousting Lee did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Lee said she was near the bar sipping water with a friend who'd ordered shots when a bouncer approached her and told her she needed to follow him.
"It was a bunch of malarkey really," she said, recalling the bouncer's comments. "He said to me, 'I have a personal question to ask you, are you pregnant?' I said yes. Then he said, 'I'm going to have to ask you to leave.'"
Lee said she was totally humiliated by the incident and agreed to go home without argument. "I thought maybe there was some sort of pregnant woman ordinance."
But Roselle, Illinois, law enforcement officials said there's no reason Lee should have been turned away. The town has no regulations barring pregnant women from bars. Terry O'Neill, the president of the National Organization for Women, said she'd never heard of any businesses allowed to decline service or entrance simply because a woman is pregnant.
"That is not acceptable behavior," she said, adding that she thought the bouncer should be fired and the Coach House owner sued. "We live in a country where people feel increasingly empowered to make decisions for pregnant woman."
Lee, who's now considering getting an attorney, told her mother, Phyllis Lee-Boyd, about the incident the next morning. Lee-Boyd contacted Coach House to complain and said an employee told her that they had a right to refuse service. Lee and Lee-Boyd have not been contacted by Coach House following the incident.
"I was livid," Lee-Boyd said, adding that this will be her first grandchild and the incident really put a damper on the family's weekend. "Pregnant women have a right to go out and enjoy themselves."
Lee said she had no plans to drink alcohol that night. "I wanted to eat a slice of pizza," she said with a laugh. "It was really sad, it looked really good."