Senate Democrats' bill would ban discrimination in financial services

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WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are proposing to apply the Civil Right Act's ban on discriminating against customers to the banking system.

The landmark 1964 law bans discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin at places of "public accommodation" — including hotels and restaurants — but it did not include financial institutions.

“Too often, Black, Brown and Indigenous people in Minnesota and across the country experience discrimination or mistreatment when interacting with financial institutions,” said Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn.
“Too often, Black, Brown and Indigenous people in Minnesota and across the country experience discrimination or mistreatment when interacting with financial institutions,” said Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn.

A bill introduced by Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland would change that, prohibiting financial institutions from discriminating on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.

“Too often, Black, Brown and Indigenous people in Minnesota and across the country experience discrimination or mistreatment when interacting with financial institutions,” Smith said in a press release. “We need to root out systemic racism anywhere it occurs, and our legislation would be a clear and comprehensive statement that discrimination has no place in our financial system.”

The legislation — titled the Fair Access to Financial Services Act — is aimed at ensuring all individuals have equal access to goods, services, facilities, privileges, and accommodations of financial institutions. The bill would give individuals the right to take legal action against financial institutions for discrimination.

“Too many Black and brown Americans experience racial profiling and unequal treatment when trying to access services at banks and other financial institutions,” Brown said in the press release. “Victims of discrimination are not even able to hold financial institutions accountable — it is shameful.”

This article originally appeared in American Banker.
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Gender discrimination Religious discrimination Racial Bias Civil Rights Act Sherrod Brown Elizabeth Warren
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