P O BOX 8126, MADISON, WI 53708-8126 (608/266-9850)

RAYMOND PERRY, Complainant


ERD Case No. 199701305

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: June 25, 1997
perryra.rsd : 125 : 9

/s/ Pamela I. Anderson, Chairman

/s/ David B. Falstad, Commissioner


The complainant, who was apparently arrested by the respondent Rock County Sheriff's Department, alleges that because of his race (black) he was denied permission to make a phone call, medical attention, a blood test, and that his car was searched without a warrant or his permission, in violation of the Wisconsin Public Accommodations and Amusements Law, Wis. Stat. 106.04(9).

The ALJ dismissed his complaint for lack of jurisdiction, thereby affirming a department preliminary determination that his complaint is not covered under Wisconsin's Public Accommodations and Amusements Law.

On appeal the complainant asks why the department lacks jurisdiction over this matter and who does have jurisdiction if the department does not. The ALJ answered these questions in her decision dismissing the complaint. Simply put, in exercising its law enforcement authority in connection with the complainant, the respondent was not a "public place of accommodation or amusement" as that term is defined under the Public Accommodations and Amusements Law. As noted by the ALJ, a public place of accommodation is defined as follows:

"`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, amusement, goods or services are available either free or for a consideration..."

The case law has held that by adopting this language the legislature did not intend to subject every place of business where goods or services are provided to the provisions of the public accommodation act, that to be a place of public accommodation under the public accommodations act, the business must be comparable to or consistent with the businesses listed in the statute itself. Hatheway v. Gannett Satellite Network, 157 Wis. 2d 395, 400-401, 459 N.W.2d 873 (Ct. App. 1990). The respondent sheriff's department, assuming it to be a "business," does not supply necessities and/or comforts of the kind offered by the businesses identified by the statute. The sheriff's department is totally dissimilar in nature from the businesses listed in the statute and thus does not constitute a place of public accommodation. Since the respondent is not a place of public accommodation, the department has no authority to act on the complaint that the respondent violated the public accommodations and amusements law.

As stated in the ALJ's decision, if complainant Perry believes that he was treated unfairly by the Rock County Sheriff's Department, there is a citizen complainant procedure available to Perry under Wis. Stat. 66.312(3) for processing and resolving a complaint regarding the conduct of a law enforcement officer employed by the respondent. As set forth under this statute, the person in charge of the law enforcement agency, i.e., the sheriff of Rock County, has the responsibility of establishing the procedure for processing and resolving complaints in this regard.


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