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'White Only' Pool Sign Ruled Discriminatory

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on January 13, 2012 3:01 AM

An Ohio panel affirmed its initial ruling that landlord Jamie Hein violated the state's Civil Rights Act. Hein erected a "White Only" sign outside her duplex's pool.

Hein posted the sign last May. An African-American teenager had visited the complex to see her parents. The girl's father, Michael Gunn, filed a complaint after he saw the sign.

He said Hein told him his daughter's hair products made the pool "cloudy." The sign went up a few days later.

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) was not sympathetic.

Hein claimed that the sign was an antique. She said it was given to her as a gift. It reads, "Public Swimming Pool, White Only." It's dated from 1931 and is from Alabama. She said she only put up the sign to inform others that the pool is actually private property. Hein asserts that everybody needs to ask permission before using the facility.

This is a fact that Gunn disputes. Gunn says his family used to have free access to the pool.

On September 29, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission found that Hein violated the law by posting the sign.

The commission was established in 1959. It enforces state discrimination laws. The OCRC responds and investigates to claims filed about employment, public accommodations, housing, credit, and higher education.

The commission's findings will now be referred to the Ohio attorney general. That office will represent the commission in front of an administrative law judge. The judge will then determine penalties, if any. This could range anywhere from monetary fines to a cease-and-desist order, according to the AP.

The "White Only" sign has already been stolen. Gunn has since moved his family out of Jamie Hein's complex.

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