The Answers Issue: Is it legal for PX to refuse someone service based on their looks?

I am tired of PX glaring through their creepy peephole and deciding I’m not good enough for their stupid overpriced drinks. Is it legal for them to refuse service based on my looks?

Let’s start with what you should be wearing. During the colder months, PX requires men to wear collared shirts, but it drops the dress code from June 21 to Labor Day. While the sartorial requirements were once fairly serious—when the Alexandria bar opened in 2006, men had to wear jackets—these days, owner Todd Thrasher insists, “I don’t really turn people away. Honestly, it’s more of a schtick at this point.” Still, if the gatekeepers at PX don’t deem your look classy enough, they’ll let you down gently: Typically, staff will say the bar is full, give you a business card, and ask you to make a reservation in the future. The 30-seat bar only saves eight spots for walk-ins, so usually it’s full, anyway.

As for the legality of turning away customers, local restaurant and hospitality attorney Mark “Chipp” Sandground says it’s kosher, as long as a restaurant applies its dress code to everyone. In other words, if PX lets in one guy in jeans and a T-shirt, it can’t turn away the next guy in jeans and T-shirt. It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation.

One group restaurants can discriminate against? The visibly soused. “We don’t want to serve drunk people,” Thrasher says. Even if they’re wearing suits.

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