NYOK STEPHEN WANG, Complainant
EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT, INC., Respondent
An Administrative Law Judge for the Equal Rights Division of the Department of Industry, Labor and Industry Review Commission issued a decision in the above-captioned matter on August 2, 1990. Complainant filed a timely petition for review by the Commission.
Based upon a review of the record in its entirety, the Labor and Industry Review Commission issues the following:
1. Respondent, Executive Management, Inc., is a company which provides property management services to owners of commercial property.
2. University Square Ltd. is a corporation which owns University Square, a shopping center located in Madison. University Square consists of retail and commercial establishments, doing business in space leased from University Square Ltd.
3. At all times material herein, Executive Management, Inc. had a contract with University Square Ltd. to act as leasing and managing agent for University Square Ltd. in the operation of the University Square shopping center.
4. Complainant, Nyok Stephen Wang ("Wang"), who is of Chinese national origin, was the proprietor of an unincorporated business, Shanghai Minnie's, a restaurant. Wang began doing business as Shanghai Minnie's at a location in University Square in 1982. At that time, he occupied space by way of a subletting agreement with a tenant, named Hose. Wang continued as a subletting tenant through 1986.
5. In October 1986, Wang entered into a lease directly with University Square Ltd. to continue renting the same space. This lease had an effective date of February 1 , 1987, a term of two years, and a renewal option for a further two years.
6. According to Wang, the roof of the restaurant leaked persistently from the fall of 1986 throughout the remainder of his tenancy, damaging the restaurant's facilities and business. Wang further asserts that he notified Executive Management of the problem on numerous occasions, but that Executive Management did not make the necessary repairs. Wang contends that other commercial tenants of University Square not owned or operated by persons of Chinese national origin or ancestry obtained prompt assistance from Executive Management when repairs to the property were needed.
7. Wang closed Shanghai Minnie's and vacated the premises in April 1989.
Based on the FINDINGS OF FACT made above, the Commission makes the following:
1. The business activity in which Respondent Executive Management, Inc. is engaged, the provision of property management services for the owners of commercial property, does not constitute the operation of a "public place of accommodation or amusement" within the meaning of sec. 942.04, Stats. 1987-88 (renumbered to sec. 101 .22(1m)(bp), (9), Stats. 1989-90).
2. Respondent Executive Management, Inc. did not violate the Public Accommodations and Amusement Law, sec. 942.04, Stats. 1987-88 (renumbered to sec. 101 .22(1m)(bp), (9), Stats. 1989-90), in respect to any of its dealings with Complainant Nyok Stephen Wang.
Based on the FINDINGS OF FACT and CONCLUSIONS OF LAW made above, the Commission makes the following:
That the complaint in this matter be dismissed.
Dated and mailed December 19, 1990
/s/ Kevin C. Potter, Chairman
/s/ Carl W. Thompson, Commissioner
/s/ Pamela I. Anderson, Commissioner
The Commission has found it unnecessary to decide whether Executive Management, Inc. failed to repair the roof at Shanghai Minnie's because of bias related to race or national origin, because it has concluded that the relationship between Executive Management, Inc. and Shanghai Minnie's operator, Nyok Stephen Wang, was not covered by the Wisconsin Public Accommodations Law. (1)
The Public Accommodations Law makes it unlawful to give preferential treatment to some classes of persons "in providing services or facilities in any public place of accommodation or amusement" because of any of a number of protected characteristics. The law provides that the term "public place of accommodation or amusement:"
"shall be interpreted broadly to include, but not be limited to, places of business or recreation, lodging establishments, restaurants, taverns, barber or cosmetologist, aesthetician, electrologist or manicuring establishments, nursing homes, clinics, hospitals, cemeteries, and any place where accommodations, amusements, goods or services are available either free or for a consideration . . ."
While Shanghai Minnie's was clearly a "public place of accommodation or amusement" within the meaning of this definition, this is irrelevant, because Shanghai Minnie's is not the respondent but is rather a business operated by the Complainant. In light of the structure and purpose of the law, it is obvious that it is businesses operating "public places of accommodation or amusement" which are enjoined by the law from discriminating in the offering of "accommodations, amusements, goods or services." Put another way, the law anticipates that it is those who operate "public places of accommodation or amusement" who will be respondents when complaints are filed.
To determine if the law is applicable, it is the nature of the respondent's business that must be considered. Only if the respondent's business or activity constitutes a "public place of accommodation or amusement" can it be found that the respondent has violated the law.
To be a place of public accommodation under the Public Accommodations Law, the business must be comparable to or consistent with the businesses enumerated in the statute itself. Hatheway, et al. v. Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc., et al., 157 Wis. 2d 395, 401 (App. 1990). A company which, as an agent of the property owner, provides property management services for the owners of a shopping center with commercial tenants, does not thereby offer "accommodations" to "the public" as those terms are normally understood. Such a company does not supply necessities and/or comforts of the kind offered by the businesses listed in the Public Accommodations Law. Furthermore, the services it does provide are not offered, as in the case of the businesses listed in the Public Accommodations Law, broadly to any interested member of the public willing to pay the price of the service. Rather, it primarily serves the property owners that are its clients, on whose behalf it provides certain services to a small, finite group of commercial tenants with whom its client has rental contracts. The Respondent herein is totally dissimilar in nature from the businesses listed in the Public Accommodations Law.
For these reasons, the Commission has concluded that the complaint in this matter must be dismissed. In so doing, it wishes to emphasize that it has not arrived at any conclusion as to whether Executive Management, Inc. failed to repair Shanghai Minnie's roof because of bias, or that if this in fact occurred it was not morally objectionable. It is simply the conclusion of the Commission that, even if what Mr. Wang alleges is true, the Public Accommodations Law does not provide him with a remedy.
NOTE: The Commission arrived at a different resolution of this matter than the Administrative Law Judge (although arriving at the same result, i.e., dismissal of the complaint) based solely on conclusions of law
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(1)( Back ) Sec. 942.04, Stats. 1987-88, renumbered sec. 101 .22(1m)(bp), (9) by 1989 Act 47, effective September 12, 1989. The substantive provisions of the law which are at issue herein were not materially changed by the renumbering. For convenience, it will be referred to herein simply as the Public Accommodations Law.