Florida RV Park Charged with Discriminating Against Transgender Tenant
HUD recently announced that it’s charging the owner and manager of a Florida RV park with discriminating against a former tenant because of her gender identity. The charge alleges that the owner violated the Fair Housing Act when he gave the tenant a letter stating that he was aware she was transitioning and telling her to act as a man, talk as a man, and dress as a man to avoid trouble [HUD v. 21 Palms RV Resort, Inc. and Nathan Dykgraaf, FHEO No. 04-21-5434-8].
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from discriminating against applicants and tenants because of their gender identity. This includes prohibiting tenants from expressing their gender. HUD’s Charge of Discrimination resulted from a complaint that the tenant filed with HUD.
“No one should have to change how they express their gender identity to maintain their housing,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Setting restrictions like these is not only unacceptable, it is illegal. This charge demonstrates HUD’s commitment to enforcing the Fair Housing Act and ensuring housing providers meet their fair housing obligations.”
HUD's charge will be heard by a U.S. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an ALJ finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, the ALJ may award damages to the complainants for harm caused by the discrimination. The ALJ may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the ALJ may impose fines to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the federal district court judge may also award punitive damages.
For more information on how to avoid discrimination complaints from transgender applicants and tenants, see “Avoiding Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity,” available to subscribers here.