WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) joined in introducing the Fair Access to Financial Services Act, a bill led by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to prohibit banks and other financial institutions from discrimination in providing goods or services on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The legislation would ensure that all people receive equal treatment when trying to access services at financial institutions, and hold these institutions accountable for discriminatory practices. The bill text can be found here.
“Every American deserves equal access to our financial institutions, yet Black and brown Americans still too often face racial discrimination when accessing financial services,” said Senator Baldwin. “This legislation takes on that issue by explicitly prohibiting our banks and other financial institutions from denying services based on race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. The Fair Access to Financial Services Act will ensure every American has the same opportunity to open a bank account, receive a mortgage or start a new business without fear of discrimination.”
“Too many Black and brown Americans experience racial profiling and unequal treatment when trying to access services at banks and other financial institutions, and don’t have anywhere to turn to hold financial institutions accountable,” said Senator Brown. “Our legislation explicitly outlaws discrimination in our nation’s financial system so that everyone can access financial services free from harassment and abuse.”
The bill has been endorsed by the National Urban League, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Center for Responsible Lending, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, UnidosUS, the National Consumer Law Center, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“The purpose of this bill could not be more straightforward. In the same way that discrimination in restaurants, hotels, and other public accommodations has long been unlawful under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this bill would make discrimination in banks and other financial services unlawful as well. We welcome its introduction,” said Rob Randhava, Senior Counsel of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Many of the nation’s largest banks have come under fire recently for racial profiling and other discriminatory practices. JP Morgan Chase Bank is being sued for refusing to open a bank account for a Black customer late last year. Bank of America recently apologized to film director Ryan Coogler after wrongfully assuming he was a bank robber. Wells Fargo came under scrutiny earlier this year for denying more than half of all Black refinancing applicants in 2020.
Senators Baldwin and Brown were joined by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ed Markey (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).
An online version of this release is available here.