STATE OF WISCONSIN
LABOR AND INDUSTRY REVIEW COMMISSION
P O BOX 8126, MADISON, WI 53708-8126 (608/266-9850)
ADRIAN E GREEN, Complainant
PAUL GREEN, Complainant
PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION DECISION
ERD Case No. 199604071, ERD Case No. 199604073
An administrative law judge (ALJ) for the Equal Rights Division of the Department of Workforce Development issued a decision in this matter. A timely petition for review was filed.
The commission has considered the petition and the positions of the parties, and it has reviewed the evidence submitted to the ALJ. Based on its review, the commission agrees with the decision of the ALJ, and it adopts the findings and conclusion in that decision as its own.
The decision of the administrative law judge (copy attached) is affirmed.
Dated and mailed: January 20, 1999
greenad.rsd : 164 : 9
/s/ David B. Falstad, Chairman
/s/ Pamela I. Anderson, Commissioner
/s/ James A. Rutkowski, Commissioner
In the petition for commission review and supporting submissions, the complainants ask that the commission listen to the hearing tapes because the summary of the testimony is not "actual" and does not reflect the question-answer format of the hearing. The complainants also maintain that the administrative law judge prepared the summary in a selective manner, including only those portions of the testimony which supported her decision. Although the commission does have the discretion to listen to the hearing tapes, it sees no reason to do so in this case. A synopsis is not intended to constitute a verbatim record of the hearing, and in the event the complainants considered it necessary that the commission base its review upon an actual transcription of the hearing testimony, it was their obligation to obtain such a transcript. The complainants have not filed any transcript with the commission, nor have they identified any material omission or inaccuracy in the summary prepared by the Division (1) that would render that document insufficient upon which to base a review. Consequently, the commission declines to listen to the hearing tapes and relies solely upon the summary of the testimony.
In their petition the complainants contend that the respondent's clerk, Gina Buettner, disregarded the respondent's policy and maliciously refused service to Mrs. Green based upon her race and class, (2) then made up a "bizarre" story to humiliate the complainants and, finally, used the judicial system to further her "crime." These arguments are wholly without merit. While Ms. Buettner's method of handling bad checks may be contrary to the policy generally prescribed by the respondent, the complainants failed to present any evidence to suggest that they were refused service or accorded unfavorable treatment because of their race. Ms. Buettner testified credibly and without meaningful rebuttal that she questioned Mrs. Green's personal check because she recalled that Mrs. Green had written a bad check or checks in the past, and not because of her race. Ms. Buettner further stated that she has asked other customers to verify their bank funds under similar circumstances, and the record contains nothing to indicate that this practice applied only to customers who were black.
The evidence also failed to demonstrate that Ms. Buettner subjected the complainants to any malicious or humiliating treatment, as they allege. Ms. Buettner permitted Mrs. Green to make arrangements to pay for her purchase and accepted Mrs. Green's check without question after she explained that she had transferred sufficient funds to her checking account to cover the cost of the transaction. While it may have been embarrassing for Mrs. Green to be discovered attempting to pay for a purchase with a bad check, in the absence of any evidence to suggest that Ms. Buettner questioned Mrs. Green's method of payment because of her race, there is simply no basis upon which a violation of the law can be found. Accordingly, the dismissal of the complaint is affirmed.
cc: Thomas R. Crone
Appealed to Circuit Court. Affirmed September 16, 1999.
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(1)( Back ) Notwithstanding the complainants' strenuous protestations that the summary reflects bias on the part of the administrative law judge, in fact the summary was prepared by a legal assistant in the Division and was not even reviewed by the administrative law judge, a matter which was clearly explained at the conclusion of the synopsis. (See synopsis, page 8.)
(2)( Back ) Throughout these proceedings the complainants have made reference to their economic class as a basis for discrimination. However, "class" is not a protected category under the Public Accommodations and Amusements Law.