Senate Democrats Introduce Bill to Ban Discrimination in Financial Services
A number of U.S. Senate Democrats recently introduced the Fair Access to Financial Services Act, which would apply the Civil Rights Act’s ban on discrimination against customers to the banking system. The 1964 law bans discrimination at places of “public accommodation,” but currently does not include financial institutions. If passed and signed into law, banks and other financial institutions would be prohibited from discriminating against customers on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
“Too many Black and brown Americans experience racial profiling and unequal treatment when trying to access services at banks and other financial institutions,” said Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. “Victims of discrimination are not even able to hold financial institutions accountable ⎯ it is shameful. It is past time we pass legislation that explicitly outlaws discrimination in our nation’s financial system so that Black and brown people can have complete access to financial services free from harassment.”
“Too often, Black, Brown, and Indigenous people in Minnesota and across the country experience discrimination or mistreatment when interacting with financial institutions,” added Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.). “We need to root out systemic racism anywhere it occurs, and our legislation would be a clear and comprehensive statement that discrimination has no place in our financial system. It’s long past time for Congress to take serious action to support people of color’s economic freedom and opportunity. This legislation will help move America forward on the path towards racial justice.”
According to American Banker, the legislation would ensure that individuals receive treatment and access to services at financial institutions, and hold institutions that engage in discriminatory actions accountable.
The bill has been endorsed by many civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, The National Urban League, and The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Human Rights. The House version will be proposed by Representatives Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio).
“For far too long, big banks and financial institutions have discriminated against Black and Brown families—denying communities of color the chance to build real economic security,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “Everyone deserves equal access to our banking system and this bill is a step in the right direction to help root out the systemic racism that has pervaded our financial institutions for decades.”
Along with Senators Smith, Brown, and Warren, the legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).