Commission on Human Rights
Amish storeowner ordered to serve shunned customer

Press Release Date:  Friday, April 21, 2006  
Contact Information:  Kentucky Commission on Human Rights

April 21, 2006
Amish storeowner ordered to serve shunned customer in religious discrimination case

VERSAILLES –  The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights (KCHR) Board of Commissioners issued a final order today in the case Ruth I. Garrett v. Erma Troyer d/b/a Rocky Top Salvage, KCHR No. 521-PA.  The Commission ruled in favor of Ruth Irene Garrett, a former member of the Amish faith. 

On October 15, 2003, Ms. Garrett attempted to purchase goods at an Amish-owned business in Hart County, Kentucky and was refused.  The store’s owner, Erma Troyer, informed Ms. Garrett that she would not accept her money because Garrett was shunned by the Amish church.   Ms. Garrett brought a complaint against Troyer under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KRS 344.120) on grounds that she was discriminated against in a place of public accommodation because of her religion.  Ms. Troyer claimed she was entitled to refuse to accept Ms. Garrett’s money because she was exercising her religious freedom.

 A hearing was held on October 6, 2006 in Glasgow.  The hearing officer issued Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and a Recommended Order on March 14, 2006, ruling in favor of Ms. Garrett.  The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights voted today to accept the hearing officer’s recommendation and ordered Ms. Troyer to cease and desist from the unlawful practice of religious discrimination and to compensate Ms. Garrett in the sum of $100 for the injury of humiliation and embarrassment caused by Ms. Troyer’s unlawful practices.

The commission held its monthly today at the Versailles Municipal Building. In other business, it approved one conciliation agreement. Conciliation agreements are reached through KCHR negotiations between complainants and respondents in consideration for the full and complete resolution of claims of alleged discrimination.

The commission dismissed 34 discrimination complaints, which, after investigation, resulted in findings of no probable cause. The commission accepted two complaint withdrawals with private settlement terms, and accepted nine withdrawals without settlement and with a right to sue.

Commissioner Anita Simmons v Cape Publications Inc. d/b/a The Courier-Journal and Career Builder LLC, in Louisville: The KCHR commissioner-initiated complaint alleged discrimination based on smoking status in employment, a violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KRS 344.040 and 344.280). The complainant alleged the respondents discriminated in the September 22, 2004 issue of the weekly publication, Velocity, against job applicants who are smokers. A classified advertisement listed “nonsmoking” among the qualities that were desired in potential applicants. The same ad appeared on the Career Builder website in September and October 2004. Under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, it is unlawful for an employer to fail or refuse to hire a person based on whether he or she is a smoker or non-smoker as long as the person complies with workplace policy regarding smoking. Investigation resulted in a probable cause recommendation, after which the parties agreed to conciliate. The respondents denied discrimination, and agreed to undergo civil rights compliance training, and provide a two year subscription to KCHR for compliance monitoring.   

The KCHR is the state government agency that enforces The Kentucky Civil Rights Act and the policies of federal civil rights laws.  It receives initiates, investigates, conciliates and rules upon jurisdictional complaints.  The KCHR has jurisdiction in housing, employment, public accommodations, and financial transactions. The Kentucky Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, employment, housing, and financial transactions on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, and sex. Discrimination is further prohibited on the basis of familial status in housing, the basis of age (40 or over) in employment, and the basis of a person’s tobacco-smoking status in employment.  Complaints not dismissed, settled or conciliated go to administrative hearing where commission decisions have the authority of a court of law.