Monday, March 15, 2010

Discrimination: Laundry in hot water over "For sanitary reasons, there are no Burmese people allowed" sign

The Irrawaddy reports the owner of a Fort Wayne business that posted a sign barring Burmese people from entering has apologized.

However, Ricker Oil Co.'s coin-operated laundry could still face an investigation from Fort Wayne's Metropolitan Human Relations Commission. Director Gerald Foday says the panel is considering filing a complaint and could pursue charges if an investigation warrants it.

At issue is a sign an employee posted on the business's door that said, "For sanitary reasons, there are no Burmese people allowed."

Fort Wayne is home to about 5,000 Burmese, the largest concentration in the United States.
Immigrants from the country also known as Myanmar often chew betel nut and spit the residue, which can result in red stains.

Health department spokesman John Silcox said there are "ongoing issues about what can and can't be tolerated" with newly arriving immigrant groups.

"You can sanction behavior based on health," he said, but noted that businesses can't banish an entire group based on the actions of certain individuals.

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