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Is it legal for a lounge to limit guests to 35 and older?

Wayne Faulkner

Limiting patrons to at least 35 years old wouldn’t by itself cause a lounge to be denied a liquor license.

The law does not set out the legal age of patrons as a factor in deciding whether to approve or deny a license, said Agnes Stevens, public service director for the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

According to statute, “For a private club, you cannot discriminate on the basis of religion unless you’re a bona fide religious organization,” Stevens said.

“If you’re a sports club or residential private club, you can’t discriminate on the basis of race, gender, or ethnicity,” she said.

“No permittee may refuse to sell alcoholic beverages to a person solely based on race, religion, color, national origin, sex, or disability. Nowhere do we find age discrimination a factor in denying a permit,” Stevens said.

A person who operates a bar with an age limit for patrons of at least 35 would not violate age discrimination laws, because they apply only to employment, said Michael Crowell, professor of public law and government at the University of North Carolina School of Government.

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