Legislation was introduced last week in Philadelphia City Council that seeks to further outlaw public-accommodations discrimination in the city.
Councilman Derek Green, along with Councilmembers Helen Gym and Mark Squilla, are backing a bill that would revoke a company’s commercial-activity license if it has been found to have violated the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance. That law prohibits discrimination in public accommodations and other areas based on sexual orientation and gender identity, along with a number of other protected classes.
Green submitted the legislation following a Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations hearing on reports of racist policies at local businesses and nonprofit organizations.
In a statement emailed to PGN, Green said that “during the hearing, I learned that some of these issues and concerns are not new and have been felt by citizens of our city for some time. It is unfortunate that in 2016 we have people that either live in or visit our city that feel that they are being discriminated against in public businesses. ”
Green’s bill would update a section of the Philadelphia Code entitled Business Income and Receipt Taxes that regulates commercial-activity licenses, which are regulated by the Department of Licenses & Inspections. Under the legislation, if the PCHR, which enforces the Fair Practices Ordinance, finds that a business violated the law, it will send a notice to L&I, Green said.
“Upon receipt of this notice, L&I will begin their revocation hearing process,” Green explained. “Whenever L&I revokes the license of a business, they can appeal the revocation to the L&I Review Board.”
"The PCHR has been working with Councilman Green on his legislation and we are in full support of his effort," said PCHR executive director Rue Landau. "Any additional laws that remind businesses of their obligation to adhere to the city's Fair Practices Ordinance and penalizes those who do not are essential tools in our effort to ensure equality and justice in Philadelphia."
Green said he is optimistic that the legislation will move forward.
“Due to the fact that the Fair Practices Ordinance was passed a number of years ago, I believe that my colleagues will support this bill and look forward to it being passed,” he said.
Current law requires that commercial-activity licenses are contingent upon a business being up to date on any money and taxes owed to the city and refraining from selling, transferring, delivering or manufacturing drug paraphernalia; serving alcohol to minors or engaging in or promoting prostitution; being a public or private nuisance; and violating laws regulating the protection of displaced contract workers, predatory lending and refuse collection.