A Survey of Federal and State Anti-Discrimination Public Accommodation Laws

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 2, Issue 2 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. 

This article explores the statutory protections offered to protect minorities from racism in retail stores. Federal law gives disappointingly little protection: Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not include protection for shoppers in retail establishments, and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 requires a plaintiff to show that a store employee actually prevented or interfered with a contract. State laws are widely varied, but only some provide protection beyond that offered by federal law. Both federal and many states’ laws should be expanded to include retail establishments in the definition of protected “public establishments” and to allow a finding of discrimination even if a shopper does not attempt to form a contract in the face of egregious profiling. At the federal level, retail stores should be included under Title II’s coverage, and courts interpreting the scope of Section 1981 should use a test akin to the Sixth Circuit’s to focus on whether discrimination has occurred. Likewise, states should provide clear coverage for retail stores as places of public accommodation.

Find the full version of this article in PDF form here.

Jeremy Bayless is J.D. 2010 at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. Sophie Wang is J.D., cum laude at 2010, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law