Is “an adult vibe” a compelling justification for age discrimination?

Since writing about PEI’s newly progressive liquor regulations yesterday, I’ve had private communications with two licensed establishments that have historically used the excuse of liquor license restrictions to exclude minors at certain times of the day; I’d assumed that they would be happy to have this yoke lifted, and to welcome people of all ages into their midst.

In both cases, however, they’ve decided, liquor license restrictions or no, to maintain their policies and to deny access to minors in the evenings.

This clearly takes the issue out of the realm of government restriction and into the realm of pure discrimination on the basis of age; the justification I was given for this policy was, in essence, that they wish to maintain an “adult vibe” in the evenings (my words, not theirs).

My easiest option when faced with this discrimination is to simply withdraw my patronage of these establishments, and I’ve done that, after making it clear to both why I have done so.

But I remain uncomfortable with the notion that businesses are operating, in defiance of clearly understood humans right principles, because they’ve decided its okay.

Many years ago there was a bar in Peterborough, Ontario called the Montreal House that had a well-known policy, never explicitly stated, of not allowing women inside. One summer afternoon I found myself with a diverse group of about a dozen women who decided to confront this policy head-on, and they invited me to join them. We went into the bar, found ourselves a table, and waited to be served. No service came. We waited longer.

Eventually a couple of us went up to the bar and asked to place an order; the barkeep said “I can serve him,” pointing at me, “but I can’t serve you.”

Why not?”, one of the women asked.

You know why,” he replied.

We went back and sat down. A few minutes later the barkeep started to turn off the lights and announced that the bar was closing for the day and we were all asked to leave, which we did.

I suspect that as soon as we were down the street things picked up where they left off before we arrived on the scene.

That was clear, bald-faced discrimination. It was wrong.

I’m happy to report that what was once the Montreal House is now Dr. J’s BBQ & Brews and, as I’ve just confirmed on the telephone, “women are now welcome here.”

I think denying access to people on the basis of age is just as discriminatory as denying access to people on the basis of gender, and I am hopeful that, like the vast majority of businesses on Prince Edward Island, the holdouts that do not feel the same way can be convinced to see the error of their ways.


Kevin's picture
Kevin on August 12, 2018 - 08:15 Permalink

As a few of your earlier posts noted, the New Years Day levees were once men only and now have a much better "everyone welcome" vibe.

Dave's picture
Dave on August 12, 2018 - 08:53 Permalink

Name and shame, Peter. Name and shame.