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Restaurant slammed for “distressing” job listing requiring applicants to be “biologically male”

barman gently pours finished cocktail from glass shaker into glass. Body of bartender in black apron on background.
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A restaurant and bar in Philadelphia said the quiet part out loud last week when they posted a Craigslist ad seeking a new bartender for the gayborhood mainstay.

“Must be biologically male” read the ad for a “Male Bartender (Center-City Philadelphia)” at Moriarty’s Restaurant and Bar. The listing was posted January 24, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, and has since been taken down.

Moriarty’s owners declined to comment.

The popular pub is located blocks from the heart of Philadelphia’s gayborhood. The ad was flagged online by customers and LGBTQ+ advocates.

“This is extremely problematic and absolutely transphobic,” said Celena Morrison, executive director of the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs. “There are laws that say it’s illegal for employers to make decisions based on a person’s race, religion, gender, or sexual identity. This is the kind of thing that fuels a culture of people facing unfair treatment.”

The description seeking a “biologically male” mixologist was listed under qualifications, skills, and requirements for the position. Another requirement was the ability “to communicate and understand our guests’ predominant language(s).”  

“We cannot send a message that this is OK,” Morrison said. “That’s not how we operate in Philadelphia.”

“My first thought was ‘what the hell are they thinking?’ ” said Deja Lynn Alvarez, deputy director of World Health Care Infrastructures and the first openly transgender woman to run for Philadelphia’s City Council. “There are very few places where LGBTQIA people can feel safe and Center City is one of these places.”

She described the listing as “definitely distressing.”

Morrison at LGBT Affairs said she’s reporting the incident to the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.  

A spokesperson for the commission, Saterria Kersey, said she was unfamiliar with the case, but explained that soliciting employment based solely on gender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance.

Rue Landau, the commission’s longtime director and the first openly LGBTQ+ member of the City Council, agreed and said the posting was in “clear violation” of the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

Violators of the Fair Practices Ordinance, which offers protections against unlawful employment practices, face the potential for fines and mandated training.

“I am confident it will be an easy, open-and-shut case,” Landau said.

Philadelphia-based attorney Eric Meyer, who specializes in employment practice law, said employers can seek out candidates of specific gender in limited situations, but only if it’s a “bona fide occupational requirement.”

“What you can’t do is hire based on sex to appeal to the preferences of coworkers or employers or customers or clients,” he said. “You can’t hire an individual based on the stereotypical characteristics of sex.”

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