Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2019

Introduced: February 5, 2019

Co-introducers: Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White. 


Summary: To amend Title 28 of the District of Columbia Official Code to prohibit retail establishments from discriminating against cash as a form of payment, and to provide for enforcement of this requirement.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

Today, along with my colleagues Chairman Mendelson and Councilmembers Bonds, Nadeau, Trayon White, and Gray, I am introducing the Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2019.

Last year, I introduced similar legislation along with many of my colleagues.  This new proposal expands the cashless prohibition to include all retail establishments, instead of only those establishments that sell food.

Several local businesses have recently implemented new policies to ban the use of cash as a form of payment.

This has been a nationwide trend, backed in some instances by credit card companies like Visa, which have provided short-term funding to businesses that agree to stop accepting cash from their customers.

This practice requires that patrons have a credit card in order to purchase a salad at Sweetgreen, frozen yogurt at Menchie’s, or a sandwich at Jetties.

Banning the use of cash is a discriminatory practice that disproportionately impacts the 10% of DC residents who are unbanked, and an additional 25% of residents who are underbanked and may not have access to a credit card.

In addition, this practice is discriminatory against youth, who are often unable to obtain a credit card, impacting many of our middle school and high school students.

 By denying patrons the ability to use cash as a form of payment, businesses are effectively telling lower-income and young patrons that they are not welcome.

 These are customers who could otherwise afford the simple luxury of a glazed treat from District Doughnut in Union Market, though they may not have the ability to obtain a credit card.

In addition to the disparate impact on low-income and young patrons, this practice effects other customers who may prefer to pay with cash to better manage their budget, or to avoid the very real risk of identity theft that comes along with credit card use.

 Through this bill, we can ensure that all DC residents and visitors can continue to patronize the businesses they choose, while avoiding the potential embarrassment of being denied service simply because they lack a credit card.

 Thank you and I welcome any co-sponsors.