How to Spot and Prevent Public Accommodation Discrimination in Your Business

public accommodation discrimination

public accommodation discrimination

The business world is a constantly shifting landscape. With an ever-increasing number of regulations and laws, it can be overwhelming for even the most experienced entrepreneurs to keep up.

Businesses must become familiar with public accommodation and discrimination laws. Failing to follow these regulations can substantially impact your company and reputation. With so much at stake, learning how to spot and prevent public accommodation discrimination in your business should be a top priority for every employer and business owner.

This blog will summarize public accommodation discrimination and how to prevent it in your business. Stay on top of these regulations — contact 1818 for legal assistance today.

What is Public Accommodation Discrimination?

Public accommodation discrimination, generally, is when a business fails to provide equal treatment due to a person’s race, sex, color, national origin, religion, or disability in areas such as housing, education, transportation, and employment opportunities.

This includes refusing service to someone due to their protected characteristic or providing services in a discriminatory manner. For example, if a business denies a disabled customer from entering a store or the opportunity to utilize the business’ services because of their disability, this would be public accommodation discrimination.

Businesses must be aware of various l federal and state laws to comply with public accommodation obligations. Laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Americans With Disabilities Act, The Illinois Human Rights Act, and the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance establish protections for these protected groups. Failing to comply with public accommodation discrimination laws can lead to the imposition of fines, compensatory and punitive damages, and even the revocation of your business license.

How to Spot Public Accommodation Discrimination

Several signs may indicate public accommodation discrimination in your business.

Here are some common signs include:

  • Unequal treatment — If you notice that certain customers are being treated differently than others, it could be a sign of discrimination. For example, if a customer of a certain race is being denied service or asked to leave while others are allowed to stay, this could be considered discrimination.
  • Verbal or physical harassment — Harassment of any kind is unacceptable in a place of public accommodation. This includes verbal or physical harassment based on a person’s protected characteristics.
  • Inaccessible facilities — If your business is not accessible to people with disabilities, this could be considered discrimination. The ADA requires businesses to make reasonable accommodations to ensure people with disabilities can access their goods and services.
  • Bias in advertising or marketing — If your advertising or marketing materials suggest a preference for or against a specific group of people, this could be considered discriminatory.

This, of course, is not an exclusive list. Believe it or not, public accommodation discrimination can often go unnoticed, often in the form of subtle actions or words.

Taking a proactive approach is critical to preventing discrimination, and by promptly investigating and responding to discrimination claims, you can avoid potential lawsuits.

Preventing Public Accommodation Discrimination

As a business owner, you are responsible for preventing public accommodation discrimination in your establishment. Here are four steps you can take to ensure that your business is in compliance:

  1. Train your employees — Offer your employees training programs on the laws and policies related to public accommodation discrimination.
  2. Review your policies — Review your policies and procedures to ensure that they are inclusive and do not discriminate against any group of people.
  3. Provide accessibility — Ensure that your business is accessible to people with disabilities. This includes providing ramps, accessible parking spaces, accessible restrooms, and adequate resources for hard-of-hearing and visually impaired individuals. Consult an attorney — It’s better to be proactive than reactive regarding your business license. At 1818 we also love to answer questions before there is a problem, so if you want someone to review your policies or operating procedures, call us.

Investigating and Responding to Discrimination Claims

If your business is facing allegations of discrimination, you must act swiftly. This includes launching an investigation, interviewing all parties involved, and taking corrective measures to prevent further discrimination.

If your business is under investigation by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), consult with an attorney before speaking to investigators. Our business license defense attorneys at 1818 can inform you of your legal rights and obligations and any potential consequences of a finding against your business. We can also help you develop a strategy for responding to the investigation and help you navigate through IDFPR proceedings and hearings.

Our attorneys are here to defend you and ensure your rights are protected. Contact us today for a consultation.

Jordan Matyas

Jordan Matyas

LinkedIn | Google

Jordan Matyas is a lawyer, lobbyist, and Founder of 1818 Legal, an Illinois professional licensing defense law firm he created in 2014. With more than 18 years of experience practicing law, he represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, including professional license defense, administrative law, land use and zoning, and state, local, and municipal law.

Jordan received his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois — Chicago School of Law and is a member of the Illinois Bar Association.