Race, Racism and the Law 
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Article 5(f) Access to Public Accommodations

United States Report on Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,
  Initial Country Report (Sept, 2000). 

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Vernellia R. Randall
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 Access 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 American markets.

Several 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 2000.

 

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Equality Before Tribunals ] Discrimination by Law Enforcement ] Overrepresentation in the criminal justice system ] Disparities in Sentencing ] Capital Punishment ] Prisons ] Article 5(b) Security of Person ] Article 5(c) Political Rights ] Article 5(d) Other Civil Rights ] Article 5(e) Economic Social and Cultural Rights ] [ Article 5(f) Access to Public Accommodations ]
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Parent Level:
Introduction ] General Report ] Legal Prohibition ] U.S. Reservations, Understandings and Declarations ] Compliance with Specific Articles ] Article 1 - Racial Discrimination ] Article 2 ] Art 3 Condemn Racial Segregation and Apartheid ] Article 4 Eliminate Incitements or Acts of Discrimination ] Article 5 Equality Under the Law ] Article 6 Assure Effective Protection and Remedies ] Article 7 Adopt Measures ] Conclusion ]
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[Race and Racial Groups] [Citizenship Rights]  [Justice and Race] [Patterns of Basic Needs] [Intersectionality Issues] [Human Rights]
 

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Last Updated:
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Thanks to Derrick Bell and his pioneer work: 
Race, Racism and American Law
(1993).