by Benjamin Yount
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has won another case based on the argument that you cannot discriminate against people based on their sex or the color of their skin.
WILL recently settled a case with Comcast over the company’s Comcast RISE program. That program offered grants to small businesses, but only if they are 51% owned by someone who is “Black, indigenous, a person of color, or female.”
Dan Lennington, the lead attorney on the case for WILL, said federal civil rights laws make it clear that race-based discrimination is illegal.
“Discrimination is still discrimination regardless if you’re doing it for what you believe are the right reasons,” Lennington told The Center Square. “Because there are a lot of people in the history of the world who have discriminated against others based on race, and they may have thought it was the right reason at that time.”
The rest of Comcast’s RISE requirements are benign, including eligible businesses being open for at least a year as well as located in a Comcast zone of service.
Lennington said Comcast originally pitched the RISE program as a post-pandemic boost for small businesses.
“They said that the whole purpose of the program was to help those businesses who had been hit especially hard by COVID. Which begs the question ‘Why didn’t they just help businesses that were particularly hit hard by COVID?’,” Lennington explained. “Why couldn’t they treat businesses on an individual basis, rather than lumping them together based on the color of the skin of the people who own the business?”
The case was filed in federal court in southern Indiana, but WILL had clients in Indiana as well as Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Massachusetts.
Lennington said WILL’s Equality Under the Law project has become a national effort, and has produced several legal victories against race-based policies. WILL has successfully sued the Biden administration, the state of Wisconsin, and Madison Metropolitan Schools several times.
Lennington, however, said the case against Comcast may be a first.
“We believe this is the first settlement or other resolution of a case of race discrimination against a Fortune 500 company for a program they developed in the wake of the summer of 2020,” Lennington said. “I would say this is the first settlement in a case of woke corporate policies.”
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Benjamin Yount is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Comcast Corporation” by Tony Webster. CC BY 2.0.