AG James Orders New York Car Dealership to Stop Coronavirus-Related Discrimination

Johnstons Toyota Allegedly Denied Service to Jewish Customer Access to Facilities
Due to Positive Coronavirus Tests of Community Rabbis

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James ordered Johnstons Toyota, a car dealership in New Hampton, NY, to immediately cease discriminating against customers over fears that certain religious groups have been exposed to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Employees operating Johnstons Toyota allegedly denied service to an individual who was perceived to be Jewish because of reports that members of the Jewish community had tested positive for COVID-19. The dealership later defended their actions by citing an example of a Jewish rabbi who had tested positive and suggested that anyone from that religious group was a risk to others.

“The alleged incident with Johnstons Toyota is just the latest public example of discrimination in the name of coronavirus,” said Attorney General James. “Though we currently face challenging and uncertain times, there will never be justification for discrimination, in any shape or form. No business can refuse to serve customers based on their religion, national origin, or any other protected class out of fear of coronavirus. My office will continue to take action to fight against bigotry and hate, and I encourage anyone who has experienced such acts to come forward.”

As announced last week, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) launched a hotline for the public to report hate crimes or biased-related incidents based on any protected class, including race, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, and others. The OAG continues to monitor businesses and individuals across the state for potential incidences of discrimination and harassment. Although local law enforcement is responsible for criminally prosecuting these perpetrators, the OAG is taking on this issue in other ways, including connecting victims and impacted communities to available resources, launching civil investigations, and supporting local law enforcement.

The Attorney General urges anyone experiencing hate crimes and bias-related incidents to report them by emailing the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau at civil.rights@ag.ny.gov or calling 1-800-771-7755. 

 

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