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Anti-discrimination Case Leads to $102,500 Settlement

On November 25, 2002, a Westchester County cooperative was ordered to pay $102,500 to Ms. Barbara King, following an investigation by HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. A Consent Decree was signed after a lawsuit charged that the cooperative had discriminated against Ms. King, in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Ms. King had entered into a contract to purchase an apartment for $66,500 but was rejected even though financially qualified. The investigation revealed that the cooperative's Board of Directors had rejected her application because an individual Board member did not want children living directly above her. They had also required that she bring her minor child in to an interview. While the Consent Decree did not require the cooperative to admit liability, it did require that they be subjected to injunctive relief and monitoring by the Justice Department. The cooperative also agreed to alter its application process by prohibiting its Board from asking questions relating to an applicant's familial status and from requiring minor children to attend Board interviews in the future.

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, states that it is unlawful "[to] refuse to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." HUD can demand that a cooperative board submit a response to allegations of discrimination, and, if the allegations appear substantiated, as in the King case, a case would then either go to court, or be settled by an administrative law judge.

This case reflects HUD's commitment to fighting housing discrimination. Carolyn Peoples, the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity stated: "This settlement sends a clear message that HUD, working with the Department of Justice, will vigorously enforce the laws that prohibit this kind of discrimination." James Comey, the U.S. Attorney who announced the terms of the Consent Decree, also stated that "This particularly large settlement should be a clear signal that everyone must comply with the Fair Housing Act. Discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or familial status is unlawful and will result in tough penalties for those violating the law."

Content Archived: March 07, 2011

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