Ohio Landlord Fights 'White Only' Pool Sign Ruling

January 12, 2012 - 9:13 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A state civil rights commission is weighing whether to reconsider its decision that a Cincinnati landlord discriminated against a black girl by posting a "White Only" sign at a swimming pool.

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission found on Sept. 29 that Jamie Hein, who's white, violated the Ohio Civil Rights Act by posting the sign at a pool at the duplex where the teenage girl was visiting her parents.

Commissioners were scheduled to hear Hein's request for reconsideration at a meeting Thursday in Columbus and were expected to rule immediately afterward.

The parents filed a discrimination charge with the commission and moved out of the duplex in the racially diverse city to "avoid subjecting their family to further humiliating treatment," the commission said in a release announcing its finding.

An investigation revealed that Hein in May posted on the gated entrance to the pool an iron sign that stated "Public Swimming Pool, White Only," the commission statement said.

Several witnesses confirmed that the sign was posted, and the landlord indicated that she posted it because the girl used in her hair chemicals that would make the pool "cloudy," according to the commission.

Hein has repeatedly declined comment. A message was left at her lawyer's office Wednesday.

"I was trying to protect my assets," she told the commission's housing enforcement director in a Sept. 27 interview.

The commission's statement said that its investigation concluded 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."

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.

Penalties in the case could include a cease-and-desist order and even punitive damages, but the administrative law judge would determine any penalties.

It still would be possible for the parties to reach a settlement before resorting to legal action.

Any decision by the administrative judge could be appealed to Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in Cincinnati.