WASHINGTON – The Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against the Valley Club of Huntingdon Valley, Penn., alleging that the club engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of race or color.
The United States’ lawsuit alleges that the Valley Club, which operates and maintains educational and recreational facilities, including a swimming pool, adopted a racially-discriminatory policy to bar summer camps from using its facilities after a group of predominantly African-American school children visited the facility.
The complaint, filed today in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, is brought according to Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title II mandates the full and equal enjoyment of rights in places of public accommodation regardless of race, color, religion or national origin. The lawsuit seeks to obtain injunctive relief under Title II to remedy such discrimination by changing policies and practices.
The complaint alleges that on June 30, 2009, one day after a group of 56 school children from Creative Steps Inc., a Philadelphia-area summer camp program, visited Valley Club, the club’s president and board of directors adopted a policy to bar all summer camps from using its facilities. The complaint further alleges that the Valley Club adopted this policy in response to racially-motivated opposition from the Valley Club’s members to the children of Creative Steps, which had contracted with the club to permit elementary school-aged campers to swim there for 90 minutes once per week during the summer. Immediately after Valley Club adopted the policy, it informed Creative Steps that the children could not return to the club and refunded the camp’s money.
"Denying African-American children entry to a swimming pool because of the color of their skin is a deplorable violation of this nation’s civil rights laws," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "It is illegal and inexcusable to discriminate against patrons by barring them from a place of public accommodation on the basis of race or color."
The enforcement of Title II is a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt. Persons with information or complaints regarding discriminatory practices at the Valley Club or other public facilities may call the Department of Justice at 1-800-896-7743, ext. 997.