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Bowling Alley Bouncer Says He Was Fired for Protesting 'Racist' Dress Code

By Mathew Katz | February 15, 2013 7:02am

HELL'S KITCHEN — A former bouncer at a bowling alley and bar in the Port Authority Bus Terminal claims he was fired after standing up to his manager over a dress code allegedly aimed at keeping out blacks and Latinos.

The bouncer, 32-year-old Daniel Stinney Jr., of Jamaica, Queens, filed a complaint with the city's Commission on Human Rights against Frames, a bowling alley and club at 550 Ninth Ave., along with a manager, Jason Bowell. 

The complaint alleges that Frames' management had a history of treating Stinney poorly because he was black, with one manager allegedly calling him "brownie."

Stinney said in the complaint that Frames implemented a weekend dress code in June aimed at "being less appealing to 'urban' patrons" — barring baggy jeans, work boots, sweatpants, jerseys, bandanas, shorts, cargo pants, tank tops and oversized jewelry.

"[Manager] Jason [Bowell] enforced the dress code a lot, especially on Fridays and Saturdays — that's when African-American and Hispanic people came in," Stinney said in an interview with DNAinfo.com New York.

According to the complaint, Stinney and his fellow bouncers stopped a white patron from coming into the club on Dec. 8 because he was wearing construction boots. The patron tried to physically force his way past Stinney, who blocked him. Stinney found out a few hours later that Bowell let the white patron in regardless, the complaint said.

"You got a problem with that? I let in who I want to let in," Bowell told Stinney, according to the complaint.

Later that night, an African-American woman tried to enter without a proper ID, angering Bowell, the complaint said.

"Every Friday and Saturday I have to deal with your people," Bowell allegedly said to Stinney, according to the complaint.

"You know what I mean, Black and Latino People," Bowell continued, according to the complaint.

When Stinney took offense, Bowell told him to clock out and go home, and had him escorted out of the bowling alley by Port Authority Police, the complaint noted.

Stinney told DNAinfo.com New York that both the dress code and Bowell's attitude were something he had never experienced in his six years as a bouncer at other establishments,  including Uncle Mike's, Flashdancers, Private Eyes and New York Belles.

"I've never dealt with that before — I was totally shocked by it," he said.

"These people have been coming in for years and all of a sudden, they can't. They got mad."

Stinney, who started working at Frames in April 2012, said he enjoyed his job until Bowell took over as manager and allegedly instituted the new dress code in June. According to the complaint, Bowell had a history of making racially tinged comments, and once asked Stinney to smile more by saying, "put a smile on that brownie for me," after a customer complained about being intimidated by "the big black doorman."

Bowell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ayman Kamel, Frames' general manager, said that the bowling alley's dress code is "very straightforward" and that Frames is an equal-opportunity employer that prohibits unlawful discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

"Any individual found to have engaged in discriminatory or harassing behavior is subject to disciplinary action, up to, and including termination of employment," Kamel said in a statement.

"Mr. Stinney was terminated for hostility against patrons and management, all incidents [that] are documented," he added, without elaborating on the alleged incidents when asked. 

Stinney has yet to find a job since December and said he wouldn't return to Frames if he got the chance.

"I don't want to work there no more," he said. "What he's doing there, it's wrong. Just wrong."