Joe Barry Carroll: Activist

Joe Barry (guarding Doctor J) is finally marking a mark

Joe Barry (guarding Doctor J) is finally marking a mark

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 08/06/08

Former NBA all-star Joe Barry Carroll claims in a lawsuit that he was humiliated and traumatized by the way he was treated in a Buckhead restaurant.

Carroll filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the Tavern at Phipps, alleging he and a friend, who are black, were asked to leave the restaurant’s bar because they refused to give up their seats to two white women.

“I was shocked that it ever happened,” said Carroll, 50, now an investment adviser. “But since I’ve gotten over the shock, I’ve felt I have a responsibility to promote some conversation, some discussion about this.”

A former Purdue University star, Carroll was the top pick in the 1980 NBA draft. He moved to Atlanta in 1991 after a 10-year career in which he averaged 17.7 points a game.

Greg Greenbaum, who owns the 17-year-old Phipps Plaza restaurant, disagreed with Carroll’s assertions.

“I don’t feel we’ve done anything wrong,” Greenbaum said Wednesday. “We don’t discriminate.”

Carroll and attorney Joseph Shaw went to the Tavern after work Aug. 11, 2006. They sat at the bar and ordered drinks and food.

A short time later, a bartender asked them to give up their seats for two white women. There were “several white males” also at the bar, but none of them was asked to move, the suit says.

Carroll and Shaw politely declined, but the bartender told them it was the Tavern’s custom for men to give up their seats at the bar to women, the suit says. Carroll and Shaw were then told repeatedly by two other Tavern employees to give up their seats, while none of the white men at the bar was asked to do so, the suit says.

Carroll and Shaw, saying they wanted to finish their meal, still declined to leave their seats at the bar. So the Tavern management called a security guard who escorted the two men out of the restaurant, the suit says.

Carroll and Shaw soon filed a complaint before the city of Atlanta’s Human Relations Commission.

After a hearing, the panel found the Tavern discriminated against the men on the basis of their gender “and, arguably, their race.”

“In light of the long racial history between black and white, the commission can’t help but to wince at the notion of expressly sanctioning a practice that would have the effect of requiring an African-American to relinquish his or her seat to a Caucasian patron,” its Oct. 10, 2007, ruling said. It added that “race was a factor in the escalation of the situation.”

Greenbaum said Wednesday that Carroll and Shaw were not targeted because they were African-American. “But we may be more preferential to women,” he said.

“We’re all Southern gentlemen,” Greenbaum said. “It creates a nice social environment when gentlemen give up their seats at the bar. That’s the way we like to do business. It’s a courtesy to our female guests.”

Shaw, a criminal defense attorney, said Wednesday he plans to file his own suit.

Carroll, represented by lawyers Gerry Weber and Hollie Manheimer, seeks unspecified damages and a court order ensuring free and unfettered access at the bar, without regard to race or gender. Carroll said he will donate any jury award to charity.

“This was absolutely different from simply asking us to give up our seats for some ladies,” he said. “This is the kind of not-so-subtle discrimination that happens too often.”


8 thoughts on “Joe Barry Carroll: Activist

  1. I’m tripping that “Joe Barely Cares”, as my frat from Oakland calls him, had to go through this. And in Atlanta of all places.

  2. Babs says:

    Talk about stupidity.

    Carroll is 7 feet tall. Can you imagine the security guards escorting a 7 foot tall man out the door.

    If the Tavern at Phipps is going to ask someone to interupt their meal, why pick a black man 7 feet tall.

    Did these employees take a history class. They were asking for trouble and I’m glad they got it.

    Hooray for Mr. Carroll. All 7 foot tall, or maybe even 7 foot 1 inch. I’ve seen different stats as to his heigth.

    The nerve of this establishment to ask someome to move their plates of food!

  3. What’s the latest on this?

    • Billy Bob says:

      How racist can two black men be to refuse to give up their seats so that women can have a seat? Do these two idiots have no class? They refuse to get up, just to prove a point. I’m white and been asked to get up so that a black female has a seat and seen it done on several occasions while frequenting the tavern. I’ve never thought for a second about relinquishing my seat, nor did I consider it to be race driven. How sad is it, with a black president in office that some people still look at everything as black or white issues? Had the females been black or hispanic, would that have changed the view? It’s calledbeing a gentleman. You would know that, if you had any class! Maybe their Mothers didn’t raise them properly. So sad.

  4. BlackRockerStudBrett1953 says:

    Billy Bob(your name speaks volumes about your[lack of]intelligence;I’ll bet you’re one of those “Tea Party” a**-clowns),I’ll make this so even a dumb good ol’ boy like yourself can understand(maybe;after all,you Bubbas are known to be,how shall I put it,NOT THE SHARPEST KNIVES IN THE DRAWER!!!);two African-American men were asked to surrender seats for which they’d already paid for two white broads.If that doesn’t sound like a brief flashback to the Rosa Parks incident which launched the modern
    U.S. Civil Rights Movement-though truthfully,at least Carroll and his boy weren’t going to be dragged from the joint,beaten and lynched by a bunch of mouth-breathing
    low-lifes as they would have when I was born(July 6,1953)-it’s close enough for this black Canadian lad whose grandfather’s second wife was part of the “Great
    Migration” from the Southern U.S.-Alabama in her case-from the 1910’s to about 1975.Oh,and had I been at that place,one of both of those buxom blonde “Georgia
    Peaches” would have accompanied me back to my place,as I’m considered a boyishly handsome black dude,even at 57!!!

  5. Wow, this is a very shocking news story. I am glad to see they are standing up for their legal rights!

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