New Orleans Landlords Agree to $70K Settlement in Race Discrimination Lawsuit

Late last month, the owners of a New Orleans 16-unit community agreed to pay $70,000 to settle allegations that they unlawfully denied housing to African-American prospective renters in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.

“In these challenging economic times, it is more important than ever that all Americans be able to rent or buy housing they can afford, and not face discrimination because of the color of their skin,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, said in a statement. “This settlement demonstrates the Department’s commitment to ensuring equal housing opportunity for persons in the city of New Orleans and throughout the United States.”

The case was based on the results of fair housing testing conducted by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC). The lawsuit alleged that the building manager failed to return phone calls from African-American testers while returning phone calls from white testers, made statements to white testers indicating that she would not rent to African-Americans, and falsely told an African-American tester than an apartment was not available for rent when in fact it was available.

Pending court approval, the settlement calls for the community to pay $50,000 to GNOFHAC and a total of $20,000 in civil penalties to the United States. The settlement also requires the community to adopt nondiscriminatory policies and procedures, keep detailed records of inquiries from prospective residents and of rental transactions, and submit periodic reports over the four-year term of the settlement. GNOFHAC filed a separate lawsuit, which is pending in federal court in Louisiana.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice