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8/19/2014

Suburban Philadelphia Swim Club Racial Discrimination Settlement to Benefit Six Area Non-Profits Serving Minority Children

News for Immediate Release

Aug. 19, 2014

Harrisburg – Chairman Gerald S. Robinson today announced that U.S. Bankruptcy Court Eastern District trustees have distributed $65,000 from the settlement of a July 2009 racial discrimination complaint to six Philadelphia-area organizations serving minority children.

Each of the six organizations ─ Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, Camp Sojourner, Fellowship Farm, Police Athletic League of Philadelphia, Youth United for Change and  Urban League of Philadelphia ─ received $10,833 for programming that benefits minority youth and combats discrimination.

“This money will not only provide enrichment opportunities to underprivileged minorities, it represents justice for wronged children,” Robinson said. “Every child in Pennsylvania, regardless of race, has a right to an equal opportunity to enjoy public places like restaurants, theaters and swimming pools.

“As we celebrate anniversaries of Freedom Summer and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we cannot forget the tremendous costs of the rights we enjoy today,” Robinson said. “The Pa. Human Relations Commission is dedicated to working toward a day when everyone recognizes these rights and no one denies them to others.

“Organizations like these six groups are our partners in promoting equal opportunity. Their work helps level the playing field for children who lack the competitive advantage that comes with privilege.”

The funds were set aside in a settlement of a July 2009 racial discrimination complaint filed by Northeast Philadelphia’s Creative Steps Daycare against The Valley Club of Huntington Valley, in Lower Moreland, Montgomery County.  The parties to the settlement recommended the organizations.

The complaint alleged that the swim club revoked memberships of the day care’s 65 minority children based on their race. The private club was a commercial property, as well as a public accommodation under Pa. nondiscrimination law, because it solicits members from the general public.

In September 2009, the commission’s investigation found probable cause to support the allegations, after determining that club members made racially derogatory comments about the children within earshot of witnesses. The club’s defense, that their actions were based on safety concerns, was contrary to the finding that the club knew how many children to expect and regularly hosted similar numbers of non-minorities.

The commission does not make investigation findings public. However, this case received substantial public attention at the outset, and the daycare center announced the findings at a press conference.

After findings were announced, the case failed to settle and the commission planned to hold a public hearing. The parties subsequently settled and the club filed for bankruptcy.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Eastern District officials will distribute the balance of more than $1 million to the children who were parties to the complaint, minus court costs and attorney fees.

Learn more about discrimination and equal opportunity at www.phrc.state.pa.us.

Media contact:  Shannon Powers, PHRC, 717-783-8266

Editor’s Note:  Attached is a photo of a Fellowship Farm Youth Leadership Development Retreat held earlier this year. The photo illustrates some of the work settlement money will fund.                                              

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