EEOC Sues Kansas City Wedding Venue for Retaliation Against Black Employee

28 event spaceST. LOUIS – 28 Event Space, LLC, a popular Kansas City, Mo., wedding event space in the Crossroads district, violated federal law by retaliating against a black employee for supporting a coworker’s claims of race discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Doug Lytle, owner of 28 Event Space, retaliated against Theopilis Bryant, who is African-American, after Bryant was a witness in an earlier race discrimination case against Profile Cabinet and Design, a Kansas City custom cabinet builder where Lytle was a manager. The agency alleges that Lytle first tried to persuade Bryant not to testify by offering him money and a used limousine. When Bryant would not change his testimony, Lytle threatened Bryant’s job and eventually removed him from the work schedule at 28 Event Space, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. 28 Event Space LLC., Civil Action No. 4:18-cv-889) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay as well as compensatory and punitive damages for Bryant in addition to injunctive relief designed to prevent future discriminatory conduct.

“It is important for employers to understand it is unlawful to retaliate against any employee who files a charge of discrimination or participates or provides testimony in an investigation,” said James R. Neely, Jr., director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office.

Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s regional attorney in St. Louis, said, “The law’s prohibition against retaliation is just as important as its prohibition against discrimination. Workers must know that they can report discrimination or provide truthful testimony to federal investigators without fear of losing their jobs.”

The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois.

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