In an interview with the Illinois News Bureau, Professor Suja Thomas discussed a new paper that will be published in the California Law Review, titled “The Customer Caste: Lawful Discrimination by Public Businesses.” An excerpt from the interview follows:
Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 were supposed to protect Black people and other people of color from discrimination and segregation in places of public accommodation. But even in a post-Jim Crow world, the legal treatment of people of color in public settings looks “alarmingly similar” to some of the conditions before Title II was enacted, Thomas said.
“In their rulings, the courts have created what I call a customer caste, such that people of color are treated differently by public businesses,” she said. “The reason I've used the term caste is that it’s a term used to describe people who are treated better or worse in a social system. And the courts have made it perfectly legal for businesses to have this de facto caste system.”
Read the full interview at news.illinois.edu.
The paper is available for download at ssrn.com.