Pa. golf course incident prompts lawmakers to call for stronger anti-discrimination laws

Representatives Jordan Harris and Carol Hill-Evans stand with the Grandview Five — the name the women involved in the golf course incident have given themselves. Jordan said he is

Representatives Jordan Harris and Carol Hill-Evans stand with the Grandview Five — the name the women involved in the golf course incident have given themselves. Jordan said he is "not shocked" about the incident, because racism has never gone away in the U.S. (Katie Meyer/WITF)

Democratic lawmakers are advocating a number of changes to Pennsylvania’s anti-discrimination laws.

The moves come in the wake of an allegedly racially-motivated incident at a York County Golf Course in late April.

A group of five black, female members of Grandview Golf Club were repeatedly admonished for playing too slowly and were asked to leave — and when they refused, owners called the police. The women say they were treated differently than anyone else at the course.

Speaking in Harrisburg on Tuesday, Delaware County Representative Joanna McClinton said the event struck a chord.

“As one of ten African American women that are a part of the state legislature — and just to be clear, there are 253 state legislators here in Harrisburg — this could have easily been myself,” she said.

The incident didn’t lead to any criminal charges against the women — police left the course after saying there was nothing for them to address. But it did lead to an apology from the Grandview Golf Club, lawsuits filed with both the state Human Relations Commission and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of the women, and renewed resolve among democratic lawmakers to expand discrimination protections.

Philadelphia Senator Vince Hughes said one goal is increasing funding for the Human Relations Commission by $1.6 million — something Governor Tom Wolf put in his proposed budget.

“The Human Relations Commission, at one time, was rated the number-one agency of its kind in the nation,” Hughes said. “About eight years ago it went through a dramatic change and things kind of fell apart. So we’re reenergizing that commission, and that’s what the funding, in large part, would go for.”

Other lawmakers advocated fines for inappropriate or unnecessary calls to police, and mandatory anti-discrimination training for employees across the state.

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