A Texas cafe owner is taking the Biden administration to court over alleged discrimination that prevents him from receiving COVID-19 relief grants because of his race and gender.
Philip Greer, the owner of Greer’s Ranch Café, has sued the Small Business Administration (SBA), alleging that he would miss out on receiving a Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant because the federal law requires the agency to prioritize awarding grants to women and racial minorities.
Section 5003 of the American Rescue Plan Act requires the agency prioritize women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged business owners applying to receive a portion of the $28.6 billion appropriated to create the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
According to Small Business Administration regulations, socially disadvantaged individuals are individuals “who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias within American society because of their identities as members of groups and without regard to their individual qualities. The social disadvantage must stem from circumstances beyond their control.”
Meanwhile, economically disadvantaged individuals are considered to be those whose “ability to compete in the free enterprise system has been impaired due to diminished capital and credit opportunities as compared to others in the same or similar line of business who are not socially disadvantaged.”
Greer, who is represented by America First Legal and Texas Public Policy Foundation, argues that such policy actively excludes entire classes of Americans not mentioned in the “priority” group who are also suffering significant financial losses caused by the pandemic.
“The Small Business Administration lurches America dangerously backward, reversing the clock on American progress, and violating our most sacred and revered principles by actively and invidiously discriminating against American citizens solely based upon their race and sex. This is illegal, it is unconstitutional, it is wrong, and it must stop,” the lawsuit states (pdf).
The lawsuit calls on the court to block the enforcement of any policy that would discriminate against certain classes of Americans, arguing that this would be necessary to “promote equal rights under the law for all American citizens and promote efforts to stop racial discrimination.”
“The decision from the Biden Administration to determine eligibility and priority for restaurant relief funds based upon race is profoundly illegal and morally outrageous,” AFL President and former Trump adviser Stephen Miller said in a statement. “It is an affront to our laws, our Constitution, and our most dearly-held values.”
SBA administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman was also named in the suit as a defendant. The SBA’s press office said it is their policy to not comment on pending litigation when reached for comment.
Small Business Administration chief Isabel Guzman attends a Cabinet meeting with President Joe Biden in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 1, 2021. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
On Thursday, the SBA announced that they had received 147,000 applications from women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged business owners who requested a total of $29 billion in relief funds.
“The numbers show that we’ve been particularly successful at reaching the smallest restaurants and underserved communities that have struggled to access relief. These businesses are the pillars of our nation’s neighborhoods and communities,” Guzman said in a statement.