Former Property Managers Fined $30,000 for Racial Discrimination
March 2011: Earlier this month, a federal court ordered the former property managers of a South Dakota apartment complex to pay a total of $30,000 in civil penalties for racial discrimination against three families, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Late last year, the former owner of the complex and one of its principals paid $30,000 to settle the government’s fair housing claims against them in the case.
T he complaint alleged that the former property manager and the former maintenance supervisor created a racially hostile housing environment for one African-American family and two white families who associated with the African-American family while they were residents at the community. Allegedly, the managers used racial epithets in reference to the African-American family and in the presence of all three families, including minor children. The complaint also alleged that they retaliated against two white families who befriended the African-American family, eventually leading all three families to move out of the community.
When the property managers did not respond to the complaint, the court entered a default judgment against them. The court’s order requires each to pay a $15,000 civil penalty and permanently bars them from participating in the management or operation of rental housing for a three-year period.
“No person or family should be discriminated against because of race, or retaliated against because of the race of their friends or relatives,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “The court’s decision makes clear that such discrimination is unacceptable and that perpetrators will be penalized.”
The lawsuit originated from complaints the families filed with HUD. After an investigation, HUD found reasonable cause to believe that unlawful discrimination had occurred and referred the matter to the Justice Department.
“Today, HUD and the Justice Department stand together against housing discrimination,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “More than that, we will not tolerate retaliation against individuals or families who file discrimination complaints or assist those who do.”
Source: U.S. Department of Justice