Discrimination in Public Facilities

All public facilities meant to serve the public should ensure that every individual is entitled to full and equal enjoyment of the facility without discrimination or segregation on the grounds of race, color, religion, or national origin.  Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects against discrimination in public facilities open to the public.  Title III further authorizes the Attorney General to initiate legal proceedings when a person has been denied equal access to public facilities on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin.

There are also state laws that prohibit discrimination on the bases of race, color, religion, national origin, and disability in places of public accommodation.  Public facilities such as courthouses, jails, hospitals, parks, and other facilities owned and operated by state and local government entities cannot discriminate in their services on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or disability.

Also all privately owned facilities that are open to the public, and offer products and services like food, lodging, gasoline or entertainment to the public can not resort to any form of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin.  An individual, who has been a victim of discrimination in a private facility open to the public, may file a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice or with the United States Attorney in the individual’s area.  The individual may also file suit in federal court.  However, the discrimination prevention remedies mentioned above do not apply to a private club or other establishments not open to the public.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in places of public accommodation, including facilities that offer lodging, food, entertainment, sales or rental services, health care and other professional services, or recreation.  People with disabilities cannot be discriminated against or excluded from services, programs, or activities offered by state or local governments.  All public transportation systems must be accessible to people with disabilities.

State and local governments must eliminate any eligibility criteria for participation in programs, activities, and services that screen out persons with disabilities, unless the government can establish that the requirements are necessary for the provision of the service, program, or activity.


Inside Discrimination in Public Facilities