Former employee sues Chicago nightclub

Underground management deny any racial wrongdoing.

December 28, 2012

The former head of security at a popular downtown Chicago nightclub says he was fired for speaking out against racial discrimination.

Samusi Adelekan worked at the Underground nightclub, a hotspot for celebrities and locals alike. In a lawsuit filed in federal court Friday, Adelekan says he complained to human resources about employees making racist remarks and discriminating against blacks and Latinos.

“There was kind of an unsaid policy to essentially keep black males out of the club by basically using arbitrary dress codes at various times depending who was in line to get into the club,” said Brendan Shiller, Adelekan’s attorney.

According to the lawsuit, Adelekan alleges he heard Underground employees “use the terms ‘big and dark,’ ‘ghetto,’ ‘fat,’ and ‘ugly’ to refer to African-American and Latino patrons in the club or patrons attempting to gain entrance into the club.” The lawsuit also alleges that Underground “discriminated against certain African-American and Latino patrons because they did not fit the ‘UG look’ (meaning Caucasian patrons.)”

Shiller said after his client groused to Underground management he was demoted and eventually fired earlier this year. Adelekan, who is African American, is seeking an unspecified amount in lost compensation.

“I really think this is the quintessential case for what downtown nightclubs do with young black males,” Shiller said. “And what happens if you try to be a whistleblower on it.”

Underground is part of Rockit Ranch Productions, of which nightclub impresario Billy Dec is the CEO. President/partner Arturo Gomez, who’s also named in the lawsuit, released this statement: “Although we have not yet had the opportunity to review the complaint, we categorically deny any wrongdoing whatsoever. We look forward to the opportunity to defend ourselves against what we believe to be nothing more than baseless falsehoods made by a former disgruntled employee.”

Some Chicago clubs have a reputation for turning away non-whites at the door. Disgruntled employees and patrons have gone after a number of clubs over race matters that range from baggy pants to hairstyles. The city Commission on Human Relations has reviewed several cases over the last couple of years.