updated 05-03-2016

Discrimination in Public Accommodations

The Massachusetts Public Accommodation Law (M.G.L. c. 272, s. 92A, 98 and 98A) defines a place of public accommodation as “any place, whether licensed or unlicensed, which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public.” In other words, a public accommodation” is any establishment, public or private, that is open to the general public and that provides, or endeavors to provide, some type of goods and/or services to the general public.

Examples of Public Accommodations

  • health care facilities, including medical and dental offices, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, nursing homes, and other health care facilities;
  • hotels, motels, campsites, and other places of lodging;
  • restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other establishments serving food or drink;
  • retail establishments, including stores, shopping centers, car rental agencies, and other retail establishments;
  • theaters, concert halls, sports arenas and stadiums, and other places of entertainment;
  • convention centers, lecture halls, and other places of public gathering;
  • museums, libraries, galleries, and other places of public display or collection;
  • parks, zoos, amusement parks, beaches, and other places of recreation;
  • public transit and bus stations, train terminals, airports, platforms, and other transportation facilities;
  • public streets, highways, sidewalks, boardwalks, and other public ways;
  • service establishments, including laundromats, dry-cleaners, banks, gas stations, barber shops, beauty salons, travel agents, funeral parlors, employment agencies;
  • providers of professional services such as law offices, doctorsdentists, accountants, and insurance agents;
  • public spaces and offices of state and local government agencies including, court rooms, hearing rooms, meeting rooms, waiting areas, lobbies, entrances, polling places, public information counters and displays.

Examples of Public Accommodations Discrimination Transgender Youth & Adults Encounter

  • Unfair Treatment: Asking invasive personal questions not asked of others and/or being asking for ID if not asked of all customers/patrons
  • Denying of service or requesting someone come back with there are no other customers
  • Mocking or using hostile language such as referring to someone as “it”
  • Threatening harm
  • Staff and/or management not intervening with other customers/patrons are harassing and/or harming a trans youth or adult while in their establishment.

Public Accommodations Discrimination in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts findings from the 2009 National Transgender Discrimination Survey by by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

  • 58% trans adults were verbally harassed in a place of public accommodation, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies
  • 22% trans adults were denied equal treatment by a government agency or official
  • 24% of trans adults who have interacted with police reported harassment by officers
  • 50% of trans adults reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance when needed

Public Accommodations InfoGraphic

Materials about the Equal Access Bill and Public Accommodations

Have You Experienced Discrimination in Public Accommodations?

If you have experienced the denial of service, mistreatment, or where asked unfair questions in a public establishment or service, please fill out MTPC’s Report Discrimination Form.