Ohio landlord wants state commission to reconsider 'white only' sign ruling

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A state commission may reconsider its decision that a landlord discriminated against an African-American teenager by posting a “White Only” sign at a swimming pool.

Ohio landlord Jamie Hein — who is white — wants the Ohio State Civil Rights Commission to reconsider its decision, made in September, that she violated the Ohio Civil Rights Act positing the sign at the pool in the duplex.

According to Commission Spokeswoman Brandi Martin, commissioners are scheduled to hear Hein’s request for reconsideration at a meeting this Thursday in Columbus.

If the commissioners uphold their original finding, the case would be referred to the Ohio attorney general’s office, which would represent the commission’s findings before an administrative law judge, Martin told the Associated Press.

The administrative law judge will then determine if there are any penalties in the case. These penalties could include a cease-and-desist order and even punitive damages, Martin told the Associated Press.

Although any decision made by the administrative judge could be appealed to Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in Cincinnati, it is still possible for the parties to reach a settlement before resorting to legal action, according to Martin.

Before the Ohio State Civil Rights Commission made its decision back in September, an investigation revealed that Hein did post the sign on a gated entrance that led to the duplex’s pool. In fact, the young girl and several witnesses saw the iron sign that read: “Public Swimming Pool, White Only,” according to the commission.

In her defense, Hein claimed she posted the sign, because the teenager used chemicals in her hair that would make the pool “cloudy,” according to the commission.

After seeing the sign, the teenager told her parents that the sign was near the pool entrance. They then decided to file a discrimination charge with the commission. They also decided to move out of the duplex to “avoid subjecting their family to further humiliating treatment,” the commission revealed in a release announcing its finding.

When its investigation was completed, the commission said in a statement that the posting of such a sign “restricts the social interaction between Caucasians and African-Americans and reinforces discriminatory actions aimed at oppressing people of color.”