Orlando Weekly

Orange County strip club discrimination lawsuit revived

The News Service of Florida Jul 24, 2020 15:15 PM
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Rachel’s Adult Entertainment and Steakhouse
A state appeals court Friday revived a lawsuit that alleges an Orange County strip club improperly discriminated against two women who were barred from entering the establishment because they were not with a man.

Anita Yanes and Brittney Smith filed the lawsuit accusing Rachel’s Adult Entertainment and Steakhouse of violating Orange County ordinances because it denied them access based on their sex, according to Friday’s ruling by a panel of the 5th District Court of Appeal.

A circuit judge agreed with Rachel’s that the ordinances were “preempted” by a state law known as the Florida Civil Rights Act and dismissed the case.

Yanes and Smith appealed the dismissal. The appeals court Friday did not rule on the validity of the ordinances but overturned the dismissal because it said Rachel’s had failed to properly bring Orange County into the lawsuit as a party. It pointed to a state law that requires counties to be brought in as parties when ordinances are challenged.

“Specifically, the Legislature authorized trial courts to grant declaratory relief in proceedings concerning the validity of a county ordinance — but only if the county was made a party to those proceedings,” said the seven-page ruling, written by Chief Judge Kerry Evander and joined by Judges Richard Orfinger and Brian Lambert.

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