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Lawsuits & Litigation

Portland Bartender Caught Drinking on Job Bashes Bar’s Lawsuit

— January 13, 2019

Portland bartender Gunnar Hokan Jorstad is asking a judge to dismiss his former employer’s lawsuit, which seeks to recoup lost revenue from a 21-day, state-imposed booze ban on the establishment.

A Portland man is being sued for $115,000 for a reason he thinks is ludicrous—drinking on the job.

And he may just have a point: 25-year old Gunnar Hokan Jorstad is a bartender.

On Friday, Jorstad hired an attorney and is preparing to ask a Multnomah County Circuit judge to dismiss the lawsuit. Filed by Jorstad’s former employer, the Barrel Room, the suit blames the former bartender for an Oregon Liquor Control Commission decision to suspend the business’s liquor license for 21 days.

According to, the commission opted to sanction the bar after Jorstad admitted he’d been drinking on the job. Law enforcement had noticed him standing outside the Barrel Room last January. Purportedly drunk at 10 p.m., officers arrived to haul away from the premises five hours later.

In Oregon, it’s illegal for bartenders to serve customers while intoxicated themselves.

Along with punishing the bar, the state seized Jorstad’s server’s license for 18 days.

Soon thereafter, the Barrel Room decided to right its perceived slight. The bar, in suing Jorstad, is seeking to recoup lost revenue—an endeavor Jorstad and his attorney have decried as “frivolous” and “absurd.”

A dozen pint glasses, each filled with a different style or color of beer, sit in two rows on a restaurant table.
A sampling of different beer varieties. Photo by Paul Joseph, via Flickr. CC BY 2.0

“While employed at Barrel Room, Mr. Jorstad was repeatedly encouraged by management to ‘get the party started’ and to lure women in off the street with free liquor,” claims attorney Michael Fuller, who’s representing Jorstad. “As reported by The Oregonian, Mr. Jorstad chose to take responsibility for his part in the Barrel Room’s January 2018 Oregon Liquor Control Commission violation.

“Barrel Room, on the other hand, refuses to take responsibility for its part in the violation.”

Fuller, notes OregonLive, is pushing the bar to recognize its fault and failure.

“Their violation is ‘failure to supervise,’” Fuller said. “They’re not being sanctioned for [Jorstad] did. They’re trying to pass the buck onto him.”

Along with dismissing their own alleged wrongdoing, Fuller’s going after the bar for wage theft, too. He’s purportedly written a letter to the Barrel Room’s attorney, claiming the establishment refused to pay Jorstad the $315 due on his last paycheck.

The Oregonian says employees drinking on the clock isn’t the only issue the Barrel Room’s faced. In 2011, less than two years after it opened, the bar originated so many emergency phone calls it was formally warned by the commission. Citing a “history of serious and persistent problems,” the agency cautioned the Barrel Room to generate an action plan moving forward.

The Barrel Room also made headlines in 2017, after a woman claimed that Dallas Cowboys owner Mark Cuban had groped her there years earlier.

However, Cuban’s supposed transgression took place in 2011 and prosecutors never brought any charges against him.

Since then, the bar managed to avoid attracting any unwanted attention until Jorstad’s drinking made the Barrel Room run dry.


Lawsuit against Portland bartender for drinking on job is ‘absurd,’ lawyer says

Portland bar sues bartender for $115,000 for drinking on the job

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