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Sellers v. Philip''s Barber Shop

Decided: February 21, 1966.

THOMAS PEYTON SELLERS, COMPLAINANT-RESPONDENT,
v.
PHILIP'S BARBER SHOP AND PHILIP GATTI, OWNER, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT. REGINALD BARROW, COMPLAINANT-RESPONDENT, V. PHILIP GATTI, T/A PHILIP'S BARBER SHOP, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT



For affirmance -- Chief Justice Weintraub and Justices Jacobs, Francis, Proctor, Hall, Schettino and Haneman. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Francis, J.

Francis

Philip Gatti, trading as Philip's Barber Shop, owns and operates a barber shop in Madison, N.J. He and his shop are licensed under N.J.S.A. 45:4-27 et seq. He has been barbering for over 25 years. Thomas Peyton Sellers and Reginald Barrow are residents of that borough. On April 23, 1964, Sellers entered Gatti's shop to obtain a haircut. Barrow went there on May 7, 1964 for the same purpose. Gatti refused the service to both of them.

Thereafter, Sellers and Barrow filed complaints against Gatti in the Division of Civil Rights, Department of Law and Public Safety, charging that he refused to cut their hair because they are members of the Negro race and thus violated section 12(f) of the Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 18:25-1 et seq.

Section 4 of the act says:

"All persons shall have the opportunity * * * to obtain all the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of any place of public accommodation * * * without discrimination because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry or age, subject only to conditions and limitations applicable alike to all persons. This opportunity is recognized as and declared to be a civil right." (Emphasis added; N.J.S.A. 18:25-4)

Section 12(f) provides:

"It shall be * * * an unlawful discrimination:

f. For any owner, * * * or employee of any place of public accommodation directly or indirectly to refuse, withhold from or deny to any person any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges thereof, or to discriminate against any person in the furnishing thereof, * * *." N.J.S.A. 18:25-12(f).

Gatti denied the alleged violations, asserting primarily (1) his barber shop is not a "place of public accommodation" within the contemplation of the statute, and (2) he did not refuse a haircut to Sellers and Barrow because they are Negroes, but rather because he was not trained to cut Negroes'

hair and did not consider himself competent to cut it on account of its unusual texture and quality. After full hearing and report from the Examiner, the Division rejected both of these claims, and entered an order, which among other things, directed him to cease and desist from refusing to cut Sellers' and Barrow's hair or the hair of other Negroes or of any other persons, because of their race, color, creed, ancestry or national origin. The order contained other remedial measures, including directions to (1) communicate with Sellers and Barrow and to offer to cut their hair, (2) to instruct his employees in writing to furnish the services provided in the shop to all persons without discrimination on account of race, creed or color, ancestry or national origin, and to post copies of the Division order as well as the written instructions to the employees in a conspicuous place in the shop for a period of a year. Gatti sought a review in the Appellate Division, but we certified the matter before argument there.

I.

Is A Barber Shop a Place of Public ...


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