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Atlanta tavern accused of discrimination

ATLANTA, April 15 (UPI) -- A federal judge is mulling whether the civil case of two black men being asked to give up their seats at an Atlanta pub to two white women should go to trial.

Former pro basketball star Joe Barry Carroll and Atlanta lawyer Joseph Shaw are suing The Tavern at Phipps for racial discrimination. They say on Aug. 11, 2006, they were asked to give up their dining table seats even though there were spots open at the bar and no white men were asked to surrender their tables. Before long, police were summoned to escort Carroll and Shaw out.

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"This is kind of the modern-day equivalent of the '60s lunch counter," Gerry Weber, one of Carroll's attorneys, said in drawing a parallel to earlier discrimination against African-Americans.

The Tavern's lawyers contend it was a matter of gender, not race. Simon Bloom III, an attorney for the bar-restaurant's management company, calls the two men's allegations "unfounded, unsubstantiated and specious."

"I can unequivocally say that the Tavern operates a color-blind business," he said. "It does not take race, color or creed into account for any aspect of its operations."

Bloom said Carroll and Shaw "were asked to give up their seats solely because they are men, not because they are African-American."

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Carroll, now an investment adviser, says if he wins the case he will donate any monetary damages to charity.

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