ACLU slaps Pasco County Fair with discrimination lawsuit

01/08/10 Tom Baur
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Today the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida announced their filing of a federal discrimination lawsuit. The ACLU accuses Pasco County Fair Association of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against three Mexican-American Pasco County residents.

The Federal lawsuit alleges that when three Pasco county residents wanted to rent a hall they were overcharged because they were of Mexican ancestry. At today’s press conference Attorneys Rebecca Steele and Paul Rebeine laid out the charges.

Beatrice Fregoso, who the lawsuit claims has no discernible accent, called the Fair Association hall to book her wedding reception and was quoted a $1000 deposit. Then, when she called back and gave her name as Fregoso, she was told the deposit was $1,500.

When one of the three plaintiffs, Maria Garcia, went to book the hall, she was told the Association had raised the deposit fee to $1,500 because Hispanics had “destroyed” the facility during past events. Also, after the reception was over the Association withheld $200 of her deposit. Garcia felt the reason for withholding the amount was not justified, and that Anglo renters would not have the same amount taken out of their deposit.

Another plaintiff, Araceli Corona, was looking forward to celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary at the popular hall and said she experienced the same result.

Attorney Rebein says the ACLU seeks an injunction to stop the Association from discriminating against Hispanics. Plus, they demand punitive and compensatory damages and reimbursement of costs and attorneys fees.

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