Employees Accused of Telling Testers They Discourage Blacks at Alabama Community
February 2011: Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that an Alabama community owner and his employees agreed to pay more than $15,000 to settle a lawsuit claiming that they violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by making discriminatory statements against African-American applicants.
The case originated based on evidence generated by the Civil Rights Division’s Fair Housing Testing Program, in which individuals pose as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices. The Justice Department alleged that the testing uncovered evidence that two employees at the community told white testers that a selling point of the apartment complex was the lack of African-American tenants, and that the community had adopted rental policies intended to discourage African-American rental applicants.
“When housing providers make race a part of their sales pitch, they create an atmosphere of intolerance and they violate the law,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “This settlement will make clear that race is never an appropriate selling point for housing.”
In addition to paying the $15,500 civil penalty, the owner agreed to develop and apply a nondiscrimination policy at his 10 rental properties throughout Alabama, provide all his rental managers with fair housing training, and provide periodic reports to the government.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice