A recent newspaper article reported that a Munich court held in favor of a club that denied entrance to a 44-year-old man because of his age. Is that reasonable or outrageous? What do you think?
1. Here are the facts:
A 44-year-old man wanted to party at a popular club, but was not let in by the bouncer because he considered the man too old.
The court ruled in favor of the club (organizer). The court's reasoning, quoted in the newspaper article, was:
A selection at admission according to visual age is not only typical at such events, but also stands up to reasonable scrutiny. ... At such disco events, the music is not the only thing that is important, but the partying together. The success of such an event depends thus crucially on a successful interaction among the guests. ... Therefore, a selection of guests to create a successful evening is reasonable to meet the interests of the guests and the organizer.
2. Well, this is really a very weak reasoning.
a) With the same kind of logic, the organizer could have said: Our guests feel more comfortable when there are no gays or blacks in the room. And no handicapped people; because they spoil the party mood of our young, cool regular guests. ...
In my opinion, such an attitude is not acceptable. If an event is generally aimed at the public, then the organizer must observe the requirements of the AGG (General Equal Treatment Act or Act againt Unfair Discrimination).
b) Of course, something else applies to a private birthday party. There, the host can write whoever he wants on the guest list and does not have to justify his choice any further.
Clubs, concerts or similar events, on the other hand, are generally aimed at the general public. At least when they are announced and/or advertised in the media. And there a discrimination or arbitrary "face control" by the bouncer does not seem acceptable to me.
c) "Due to limited capacities, the staff at the entrance was instructed to turn away guests who did not fit", the judgment states. - Oh yes, not enough space? Every concert of Billie Eilish or Rammstein is sold out within a very short time. Nevertheless, a professional organizer would not come up with the (absurd) idea of selling tickets only to people under 25 or over 40 (or whatever). Age is simply not a suitable criterion for selection. If you are too old for techno at 44, then you shouldn't let David Guetta into any club. ...
3. "A differentiation at the entrance according to the visual age also stands up to a reasonable consideration", according to the court.
Really? Where is the limit there?
a) Is the organizer of a reading with a famous author allowed to say: No men with tattoos who look as if they go to the gym every day, because they disturb our intellectual ambience?
b) Just imagine that one of these "bouncer types" wants to go to the theater with his girlfriend, and there they turn him away at the entrance saying: We don't like your face, you don't fit in here. ...
c) No, such a thing is not possible, of course, and a decent organizer does not support such an unfair selection either.
What in one case (disco club) was considered almost normal or "typical", at least in the past, would be completely unthinkable in the other case (theater). I think it's about time that the same standards were applied.
4. As far as I can gather from the newspaper article, the court has allowed an appeal to the Federal Court.
Let´s hope that the judges there will make it clear to the organizer in question (or to organizers in general) that the AGG also applies to them. Those who repeatedly violate the rules of the AGG, should ultimately lose their license. Only in this way can the AGG be enforced and arbitrary discrimination be abolished or at least reduced.
Dr. Wolfgang Gottwald
Rechtsanwalt/Attorney at Law