Commission on Human Rights
Hearing to be held in American Legion case
LOUISVILLE – The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights will hold an administrative hearing tomorrow, June 11, and Thursday, June 12, to determine whether American Legion Post 62 in Franklin has violated civil rights laws. The complaint by Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Commissioner Priscilla Johnson and Al Shadi against the American Legion Post 62 alleges discrimination based on race (African American) in employment and in a place of public accommodation, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Kentucky Civil Rights Act (344.040 and 344.120, respectively) and the Kentucky Revenue Code (141.010).
Mr. Shadi, an employee of Rent-A-Center, alleged he went to the post to service a television; however, he was denied access to the Legion Post because of a “whites only” policy. KCHR Commissioner Johnson filed a commissioner-initiated complaint arising from the same incident. The investigation by the KCHR revealed that Mr. Shadi’s white co-worker was told by a white representative of the American Legion facility that Mr. Shadi would not be able to go in because the American Legion Post 62 was “whites only.” The investigation also revealed that a white male on the premises overheard the exchange and said, “It’s their rules.” The American Legion denies any violation of the law.
In March 2005, the Kentucky Supreme Court issued a ruling that said discriminatory practices of private clubs can be investigated. The decision in the case of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and Kentucky Commission on Human Rights v Pendennis Club Inc. et al. held that the Kentucky revenue code provisions are applicable to private clubs and can be used as an enforcement mechanism by denying tax deductions where clubs discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. The plaintiffs also allege that the club’s “whites only” policy constituted unlawful interference with Mr. Shadi’s employment with Rent-A-Center. The plaintiffs also allege that the American Legion Post is a place of public accommodation and is prohibited from enforcing a “whites only” policy. The KCHR has not yet determined in this case if the American Legion Post 62 is a private club or a place of public accommodation.
KCHR Chair Henry Curtis will preside over the administrative hearing, which is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. in the second floor courtroom of the old Simpson County Courthouse, Center of Public Square, Main Street, Franklin, KY 42134.