The bill’s proponents view it as necessary to fill a void in regulatory coverage due to judicial decisions that narrowly read the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 as not reaching financial institutions. Although state antidiscrimination laws typically reach financial services providers, a number of states have weaker (or no) laws in this area or do not prioritize enforcement of such laws against financial institutions. Further, existing antidiscrimination law in this area often focuses narrowly on whether a consumer was denied or treated differently in connection with a credit transaction, meaning that it is currently difficult for consumers to obtain redress for discriminatory actions by financial companies outside of the lending context.
The proposed bill provides that “all persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, and accommodations of any financial institution.” Senator Sherrod Brown, one of the bill’s sponsors, remarked that “[t]oo many Black and brown Americans experience racial profiling and unequal treatment when trying to access services at banks and other financial institutions” and that “[v]ictims of discrimination are not even able to hold financial institutions accountable—it is shameful.”
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