Religious Discrimination In Public Accommodations

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People should not have to hide their faith when they go out in public. When going to a restaurant or other business open to the general public, people should not be turned away or harassed by the proprietors or patrons because they are wearing a cross, a headscarf, or a yarmulke.

The Civil Rights Division's Housing and Civil Enforcement Section enforces Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations such as restaurants and motels on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin.

For example, the Division settled a case in which a restaurant in Springfield, Virginia, told a Sikh man that he had to remove his turban to enter the restaurant. The settlement agreement included requiring adoption of a nondiscrimination policy, training for employees, and posting signs stating the nondiscrimination policy.

The Department of Justice can bring a lawsuit if it believes a person or entity has engaged in a "pattern or practice" of discrimination. If you believe you have been the victim of such discrimination, please write to us.

Updated August 6, 2015

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