The Justice Department announced yesterday that it had reached a settlement agreement with Valley Swim Club, resolving allegations that the company discriminated against persons because of race.
More than 60 campers were turned away from the swim club in June 2009. Then-president John Duesler said "it was a safety issue" because he underestimated the number of people his club could hold. Some campers reported hearing club members ask what black children were doing there.
According to a philly.com report, lawyers representing the campers are estimating about $1.1 million will be shared with the 73 discrimination claimants - including camp counselors and members from Creative Steps Inc.
The settlement also states that $65,000 will be set aside from the proceeds of the sale of the Valley Club property for the creation of a leadership council that comprises former Valley Club members, Creative Steps counselors, campers and their families. The children and families affected by the Valley Club incident will take leadership roles in planning swimming, educational and recreational opportunities for the community.
From the Justice Department:
In January 2010, the department filed a complaint following an incident at the Valley Club in June 2009. Creative Steps Inc. a Northeast Philadelphia children’s day camp, had paid the club a fee to give its campers access to the club’s swimming pool for the summer. On the first day they swam, the children reported hearing racial slurs while enjoying the pool. On July 3, 2009, the club refunded the day camp’s membership fee and prohibited the children from returning to swim.
“No one may be denied the right to use a swimming pool because of their race or the color of their skin,”
Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
Valley Club filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy protection in November 2009. The club property was sold in June 2010 for $1,460,000. The settlement agreement stipulates that payments will be made once the administration of the estate and the bankruptcy case is closed and after paying allowed costs and fees.
“This settlement provides significant opportunity to children who were denied an opportunity based on their skin color,” said JoAnn Edwards, executive director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. “Our hope is that this case serves as prevention for years to come and a reminder that discrimination is illegal, and has no place in Pennsylvania.”
More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt. Persons who believe they have experienced or witnessed unlawful discrimination in public accommodations may contact the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section at (202) 514-4713.