A Rhode Island-based community bank has agreed to a $9 million settlement to address allegations of engaging in lending discrimination through redlining in predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. This announcement was made by a U.S. attorney on Wednesday.
The complaint against Washington Trust Company asserted that the bank had neglected to offer mortgage lending services to the majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Rhode Island between 2016 and 2021.
As a small business owner, you retain the prerogative to decline service to customers under certain circumstances, such as instances where patrons are causing disruptions or are visibly intoxicated. Nevertheless, it's crucial to be aware that there are legal constraints regarding when a business can exercise this right.
Numerous anti-discrimination statutes exist at the federal, state, and local levels. One of the most significant among them is the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in public accommodations.
Title VII of this federal law mandates that no establishment can reject a customer solely due to their membership in one of these protected categories. Recent legal precedents have also extended these protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity as federally safeguarded classes.
When a business proprietor refuses service to a customer solely on the grounds of their affiliation with a particular group or category, it may constitute a violation of the law.
If you are a business considering adopting policies that decline services to certain customers or an employee that has experienced denial of services, the attorneys at Outside Legal Counsel LLP can advise further. Please reach out to us for a consultation.
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