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Post Oak Hotel slammed with 2 ‘frivolous’ lawsuits alleging discrimination at restaurant

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — The Post Oak Hotel is standing by its employees amid allegations of restaurant staff discriminating against Black guests.

The video above is ABC13’s 24/7 livestream.

The popular hotel in Houston’s Uptown area was slammed with two lawsuits nearly two weeks apart.

Although the lawsuits are in reference to separate incidents, they are both accusing the hotel restaurant employees of singling them out for their race and enforcing dress code restrictions that allegedly weren’t applied to white guests.

On Oct. 6, 45-year-old Willie Powells filed his lawsuit against the hotel.

On March 8, Powells met with a fellow lawyer inside the Post Oak Hotel located at 1600 West Loop S.

Powells alleges when he sat down with his colleague, an employee rudely asked him to remove his hat despite a large table nearby with about seven white people who were wearing some sort of hats, including cowboy hats.

The lawsuit claims that the 45-year-old, being the only Black guest in the restaurant, pointed out other guests’ attire but the employee persisted.

The “rude behavior” interrupted the business meeting and forced Powells out of the restaurant, according to the lawsuit.

The Post Oak Hotel called the lawsuit “frivolous.”

Steven Chou, the general manager at Post Oak Hotel, sent the following statement:

“The Post Oak attracts hotel patrons from all over the world and is one of the most diverse properties in Houston both in employees and its customer base.
HBar has a strict business casual dress code and ball caps do not align with this policy which is enforced regardless of race, color, creed or gender.
The guest has been a frequent hotel patron and is well aware of our dress code. When this incident occurred in the HBar last March, the staff politely asked the guest to remove his ball cap and he chose to leave instead and complain in a frivolous lawsuit filed 7 months later demanding $500,000. Our record speaks for itself with the broad customer base we serve, and will vigorously defend.”

The second lawsuit emerged on Friday, with similar allegations aimed at the Bloom & Bee Restaurant in the Post Oak Hotel

A 28-year-old grade school teacher, Blessing Nwosu, arrived at a birthday celebration when the host, who is a minority, allegedly pointed out her attire.

Nwosu was allegedly told to cover her shoulders; meanwhile, other white women had their shoulders exposed, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit notes that the restaurant has a public Instagram page showcasing many white women exposing their shoulders.

Nwosu said she reached out to the restaurant days after the incident and never heard anything back.

The Post Oak Hotel defended its employees, saying Nwosu was not following the dress code.

“It’s a lot cheaper these days to use the media for free publicity in lieu of paying for billboards or television advertising,” Chou said in part of a statement.

Chou sent the following statement regarding the second lawsuit:

“The Post Oak attracts hotel patrons from all over the world and is one of the most diverse properties in Houston both in employees and in its customer base.
The plaintiff entered one of the hotel’s restaurants for lunch and approached the hostess stand. The hostess noticed on her own that plaintiff was clearly over exposed in her dress and discreetly and respectfully offered her a shawl for coverage. The hostess is a minority and denies any discriminating nature towards the plaintiff and simply wanted plaintiff to cover up. This is nothing more than a frivolous lawsuit filed by an opportunistic lawyer looking for 15 minutes of fame and a pot of gold. It’s a lot cheaper these days to use the media for free publicity in lieu of paying for billboards or television advertising. Any further comments will be made by us at the courthouse.”

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