Michelle Lee was catching up with friends at a nightspot near her parents’ home when a bouncer pulled her aside.
“Can I ask you a personal question?” Lee recalled him asking. “Are you pregnant?”
She responded yes because, at eight months along, it would have been difficult to argue otherwise, she said later.
Lee, 29, said the bouncer who was staffing the Coach House bar near Roselle didn’t care that she was only drinking water.
She said he asked her to leave shortly after midnight Thursday, telling her the bar would be liable if anything happened to her. She complied, but grew angrier over the weekend, questioning whether she had been discriminated against as a pregnant woman.
“He just said, if anything happens, if a fight breaks out and you get hurt, we are responsible,” Lee said. “That can happen anywhere. If I am going somewhere, I am taking responsibility.”
Three different employees reached by phone at the bar declined to comment on Lee’s allegation. Employees contacted in person also declined comment Tuesday. Messages left for the establishment’s owners since Friday were not returned.
Civil rights experts said that, despite any good intentions, it would be wrong to send a woman packing just because she was pregnant.
“There are certain things for which you are not able to discriminate against someone, and one is their gender,” said Ed Yohnka, an American Civil Liberties Union spokesman. “And only women can have babies. You can’t discriminate against a pregnant person.”
Lee, a Denver resident who grew up a few blocks away from the bar and was in town for her baby shower, said that she was humiliated by the experience. Later that morning, she went home and told her mother what happened.
“I was really put off when she told me,” her mother, Phyllis Lee, said Monday. “She and a friend of hers went to Houlihan’s (restaurant) yesterday and had something to eat, and they weren’t asked to leave.”
Michelle Lee said that on Thursday night she noticed the bouncer looking at her as she walked past him toward the restroom. She said that she and her friend, Lisa Ruiz, 29, had each ordered water, and Ruiz also ordered a shot of alcohol.
When they headed back toward their table, the bouncer asked to speak with Lee privately, Lee said. She asked why, but he insisted that they move to the front of the bar, she said.
Once there, he asked if she was pregnant, and then told her she would have to leave. When Ruiz chimed in that her friend was drinking water, he said that it didn’t matter. If anything happened to her, the bar owners could be held liable, he told them.
“They more or less escorted her out,” said Ruiz, of Hoffman Estates. “I was actually shocked because we have gone there before.”
Lee is considering contacting a lawyer, she said.
“I wasn’t causing any trouble,” she said. “I just want to be treated like everybody else.” (source)