PORTLAND -- Formal charges have been filed against a North Portland bar for unlawful discrimination against transgender patrons, according to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.

Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced the charges Wednesday against the Twilight Room Annex, formerly known as the P Club.

Investigators found evidence confirming that bar owner Chris Penner left phone messages asking a group of transgender patrons to stop visiting the establishment because he didn t want the P Club known as a 'tranny bar,' said BOLI spokesman Charlie Burr.

Background: Bar discriminated against LGBT patrons, state says

Despite the findings, the state failed to reach a settlement with Penner, Burr said.

Penner claimed the group of patrons had disrupted business, but investigators could not back up that statement. Burr said Penner had banned the group from his bar before notifying them of any complaints about their behavior.

The charges were filed under the 2007 Oregon Equality Act.

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Business owners cannot discriminate against patrons based on gender identity, Avakian said. Our agency will use its full spectrum of tools to make sure that businesses follow the law, including filing commissioner s complaints when there may be barriers to individuals filing themselves.

The case will now go before an administrative law judge, who can award up to $50,000 per person for the alleged violation, Burr said. The judge will also determine how many people are entitled to damages.

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