New York Welsh pub Long Bow agrees fine for discrimination

  • 20 June 2013
  • From the section Wales
Long Bow pub
Image caption The couple advertise the Long Bow as the only Welsh pub in New York

The owners of a Welsh pub in New York have agreed to pay a $2,500 (£1,600) fine after being accused of discrimination.

Wrexham-born Michael Colbert and his American wife Jennifer advertised for a job stating that being British worked in the applicant's favour.

Under the city's Commission of Human Rights rules, seeking someone from a specific country is illegal.

The vacancy at the bar has now been filled by a "football mad" Irish woman.

In their job advert for new staff, the couple included the phrase "Being British definitely works in your favour".

"Being an ex-pat or having lived in the UK - also a plus," the advert continued.

The commission's general counsel said that the advert was clearly discriminatory because it expressed a preference "for one group of people over another."

The couple had been due to take the matter to court but agreed in a pre-trial conference on Thursday to pay a fine of $2,500 (£1,600) issued by New York City's Commission of Human Rights.

Part of the agreement also stipulates that the couple and their staff have to undergo anti-discrimination training within the next 120 days.

In a statement the couple said: "Free speech is not so free after all it seems".

But they added they were looking forward to getting on with running the pub.

"We are grateful for all the support we have received, locally, nationally and internationally," they said.

Previously Mr Colbert, who moved to North America in the 1980s, said: "We are a Welsh pub and we are looking for that skillset of bartender-barmaids who help enhance the customers' experience of being in a British pub and all the things that go with a British pub."

British culture

The couple started a fundraising campaign to help with legal bills ahead of the arbitration meeting at the commission's offices.

They advertise the Long Bow as the only Welsh pub in New York and said they were looking for someone who knew British culture but did not want anyone with a specific nationality.

Mrs Colbert said: "Never did we say it was a requirement, it was a plus."

After the decision on Thursday, New York City's human rights commissioner Patricia Gatling said it would not be illegal to "demand a knowledge of the food, spirit or culture that conforms to your business model, but you cannot give a preference to anyone from a particular country".

She added: "While the Longbow has enjoyed an enormous amount of free advertising over the past couple of months, it is our hope they... understand that discrimination in this city is illegal and at the end of the day violators will pay."

No one was appointed to the job from the controversial advert but a new staff member was found later.

"Someone walked in off the street looking for work," said Mrs Colbert.

"She's Irish, supports Manchester United, is very much into football and is ideal," she said.

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