Important Legal Update: Upholding Public Accommodations Law

At CAIR-Philadelphia, we believe all people should have the ability to go to public places and not experience harassment or discrimination. Federal law agrees with this principle and mandates that “all persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation.” Therefore, this is a right guaranteed by the laws governing our nation, but it is one that required vigorous fight to obtain and regrettably still requires work to maintain for all citizens. This is the case because many Muslims across our region have to endure public humiliations for simply following their beliefs. At CAIR, we continue to work to ensure that the law applies equally to all. One of our recent cases embodies this.

We were recently retained to represent a Philadelphia area Muslim woman who was discriminated against when she attempted to patronize Tommy Gun, Inc. (doing business as Targetmaster). Targetmaster, located at 255 Wilmington West Chester Pike in Chadds Ford, is an indoor gun range and retail gun shop that has a history of discriminating against customers who wear religious head coverings.

Our client visited the business last spring with her family. While there, she was approached by an employee of Targetmaster who demanded she remove her hijab in order to remain on the premises, citing a business policy prohibiting head coverings aside from baseball caps. Our client informed the employee that her hijab is a religious head covering, and she could not remove it in public. The Targetmaster employee insisted she remove it or leave. Our client decided to leave and honor her faith, and later contacted our office. We have since learned that others have had similar experiences. One customer was reportedly told people who wear “things like that” are not welcome in the business.

This is unlawful religious discrimination and should not be tolerated. US law clearly establishes the right for people to freely accept religious beliefs and engage in any corresponding religious actions and/or rituals made in concert with those beliefs. These religious expressions must be permitted in public places. This is the type of discrimination we will continue to oppose.

CAIR-Philadelphia has filed a public accommodations complaint against Targetmaster and has a forthcoming public hearing on the matter. As always, CAIR-Philadelphia will continue to provide support and advocacy to our community regarding this and other pressing issues that impact Muslims across the Greater Philadelphia area.

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