Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Stump the Law Librarian

Q: I was refused service in a restaurant and I think I was discriminated against. The manager says he has a right to refuse service. What is the law on this and what are some legal actions I can take?

A: If you believe you were discriminated against, section 106.52 of the Wisconsin Statutes provides that it is against the law to deny service or to give unequal treatment in service because of sex, race, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry. Discrimination in relation to age, 18 and older, is only unlawful in regard to lodging establishments. "Public accomodations" includes, but is not limited to, hotels, motels, restaurants, taverns, retail stores, exercise clubs, dry cleaners, auto repair shops, and other service establishments. The law does not apply when a private, nonprofit organization provides goods or services to only its members or their guests.

This section is enforced by filing a complaint with the Equal Rights Division of the Department of Workforce Development within 300 days of the discriminatory action. They have complaint forms and procedural information on their website.

In additon, you may want to research the common law topic of "Right to Refuse Service" with regard to the 14th amendment and caselaw at your local law library.