Houston attorney files discrimination lawsuit against Post Oak Hotel

Willie Powells, a Black Houston attorney is seeking $500,000 in damages.

The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston

A Black Houston attorney filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Post Oak Hotel after he was asked to remove his hat in the hotel bar earlier this year.

Willie Powells, a personal injury lawyer, filed the lawsuit against the hotel on Friday, and he is seeking $500,000 in damages.

Powells attorneys allege he was the only African American sitting in the hotel bar when he was asked to remove his hat by an employee with a “rude and abrupt demeanor.” Powells said the employee interrupted his business meeting and told him to remove his hat or leave.

According to court documents, there were white diners in the bar wearing cowboy hats when Powells was asked to remove his baseball cap.

After the confrontation, Powells went to the front desk of the hotel to speak with a manager about the incident, when the manager defended the request for him to remove his hat, and asked him to leave.

The manager also dismissed his concerns of others being allowed to wear cowboy hats in the hotel bar, according to court documents.

In a statement about the incident, General Manager Steven Chou said the confrontation happened in March, according to KHOU.

“HBar has a strict business casual dress code and ball caps do not align with this policy which is enforced regardless of race, color, creed or gender,” Chou said. “The guest has been a frequent hotel patron and is well aware of our dress code.”

“When this incident occurred in the HBar last March, the staff politely asked the guest to remove his ball cap and he chose to leave instead and complain in a frivolous lawsuit filed 7 months later demanding $500,000. Our record speaks for itself with the broad customer base we serve, and will vigorously defend."