to Public Accommodations.
Consistent with Article 5(f), U.S. law provides strong protections for
the right of equal access to any place or service intended for use by
the general public, including transport, hotels, restaurants, cafes,
theaters and parks.
Title II of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. sec. 2000a) prohibits discrimination
because of race, color, religion, and national origin in certain places
of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants, and certain places
of entertainment. In addition, most states have their own laws requiring
equal access to public accommodations.
Over the last
five years, the majority of public accommodation cases pursued by the
Justice Department have involved bars or nightclubs that utilize a
similar pattern to keep Black patrons from entering the establishment.
Typically the club owner advises Black patrons that the club is private
and the patron would have to apply for membership. White patrons, in
contrast, are allowed entry without membership or are offered the
opportunity to become members on the spot. Cases that raised this
scenario include United States v Patin, United States v.
Broussard, United States v. Lagneaux, and United States v.
Richard, all cases filed in Louisiana in 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1999
respectively; and United States v. C & A Enterprises, filed in West
Virginia in 1996. These cases were resolved and the defendants enjoined
from continuing their discriminatory practices.
Two Title II
suits in recent years have more broadly alleged discrimination in
nationwide chains. In 1999, the Department sued HBE Corporation, the
owner of the Adam's Mark Hotels. The lawsuit alleged that AMH placed
non-white guests in less desirable rooms than white guests or segregate
them to the least desirable areas of the hotel; charged non-white guests
higher room rates than white-guests; charged different prices for goods
and services for non-whites guests than white guests; applied stricter
security, reservation, and identification requirements to non-white
guests than white guests; and had policies to limit the number of
non-white clientele in the hotel's restaurants, bars, lounges or clubs.
A proposed settlement of the case is pending court approval. It will
enjoin future discrimination at Adam's Mark Hotels and provides for a
compliance officer to monitor compliance with the settlement decree;
investigate any complaints filed by hotel guests; review, approve, and
monitor a training program as well as oversee a testing program; and
establish a marketing plan to identify, target, and reach African
years earlier, a suit was filed against the Denny's Restaurant chain. On
May, 24, 1994, settlement papers were filed in the United States' Title
II action and two private lawsuits against Denny's, one of the largest
food service companies in the country. The settlement, embodied in two
consent decrees filed in U.S. District Courts in Los Angeles and
Baltimore, resolved these suits that had claimed that Denny's failed to
serve Blacks, required Blacks to pre-pay for their food, forced them to
pay a cover charge, and neglected to serve them. Under the settlement,
Denny's agreed to pay $45 million in damages and implement a nationwide
program to prevent future discrimination. The decrees required Denny's, inter
alia, to: retain an independent Civil Rights Monitor with broad
responsibilities to monitor and enforce compliance with the decrees;
educate and train current and new employees in racial sensitivity and
their obligations under the Public Accom-modations Act; implement a
testing program to monitor the practices of its company and
franchised-owned restaurants; and feature Black and members of other
racial minority groups as customers and employees in advertising to
convey to the public that all potential customers, regardless of their race or color, are
welcomed at Denny's. The decrees are scheduled to expire in November