IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Civil Action No. G-00-700
BRAZORIA MANOR APARTMENTS,
LTD., BRAZORIA MANOR, LTD.,
JOHNSON ENTERPRISES, LTD.
ENTERPRISES, LTD., JOHNSON
ENTERPRISES MANAGEMENT CO.,
a/k/a JEM-CO, JAN R.CLUTE,
individually and in her official
capacity, and JEAN E. JOHNSON,
individually and in her official
On November 20, 2000, the United States of America filed this action on behalf of Betty M. Walters, pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3601 et seq. ("the Act"). Defendants own and/or manage residential rental property that is funded and regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program (formerly the Farmers Home Administration or "FmHA"), the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (hereinafter "HUD") and the State of Texas through its Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The United States alleges, inter alia, that Defendants terminated Ms. Watlers' employment as a property manager for Defendant Brazoria Manor Apartments on January 28, 1999, in retaliation for helping Frances Griffin assert her right to fair housing. Specifically, the United States alleges that Defendants fired Ms. Walters in retaliation for Ms. Walters' cooperation in the investigation of a previously filed housing discrimination complaint. The United States further alleges that Defendants' conduct violated 42 U.S.C. §3617. The Defendants have denied and do deny all of the claims and allegations of both the United States and Ms. Walters.
The parties desire to avoid protracted and costly litigation. Therefore, without a trial or adjudication on the merits, and without any admission of wrongdoing on the part of the Defendants, the parties have consented to the entry of this Order, as indicated by the signatures appearing below.
It is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that the Defendants, their officers, agents and employees, successors and assigns, and all persons in active concert or participation with them in the ownership and/or operation of all rental property owned and managed by the Defendants ("Defendants' properties") are hereby permanently enjoined from:
- Retaliating against Betty Walters or any member of her family in any way due to her assertion of her own rights and/or any actions she may have taken to aid others in the exercise of their rights under the Fair Housing Act, in violation of Section 818 of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S. C. §3617;
- Violating the terms, conditions, regulations, restrictions and lawful obligations imposed upon Defendants by federal, state and local funding authorities or by entities relating to fair housing compliance, including, but not limited to The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program, and HUD; and
- Engaging in any discriminatory housing practice made unlawful by the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3601 et seq.
- TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION
- Requirement to Inform Employees of Terms of Consent Decree
It is FURTHER ORDERED that within fourteen (14) days of the date of entry of this Order, Defendants shall inform all employees of Brazoria Manor Apartments, Ltd., Brazoria Manor, Ltd., Johnson Enterprises, Ltd. Apartments, Johnson Enterprises, Ltd., and Johnson Enterprises Management Co., including, but not limited to, all caretakers, maintenance workers and all persons currently associated with management, rental, or administration of their residential rental properties (including any persons who subsequently become involved in the Defendants' leasing process) of the provisions of this Order, Defendants' nondiscrimination obligations under this Order, and under the Fair Housing Act, as amended.
- Required Fair Housing Training and Certification
It is FURTHER ORDERED that within one hundred twenty (120) days of the date of entry of this Order, Defendants shall ensure that each Defendant, and all persons associated with the management, rental, or administration of Defendants' properties, including all caretakers and maintenance workers, shall attend a training session regarding the requirements of the Fair Housing Act. Further, Defendants shall provide Fair Housing training to all employees annually for the next four (4) years (at least once in each calendar year beginning in 2002 through and including 2005). The Fair Housing training required by this Consent Order shall be conducted by an employee or representative of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. No later than ninety-five (95) days prior to the date by which each training must be conducted, Defendants shall write to HUD requesting that HUD schedule and conduct the trainings mandated by this Order. (1) Plaintiff's approval of HUD's training program does not constitute any waiver by Plaintiff to enforce this Consent Order, or create any liability on the part of Plaintiff. All persons attending the training sessions required by this Order will complete a form acknowledging attendance, under penalty of perjury, which Defendants will retain for a period of four (4) years from the date of entry of this Order. Defendants shall provide copies of the attendance forms to the United States within seven (7) days of the date of each training session. (2)
- ADVERTISING AND OUTREACH
It is FURTHER ORDERED that within thirty (30) days after entry of this Order, Defendants shall take the following steps to notify the public of their nondiscriminatory policies:
- Post and maintain a fair housing sign in a form approved by the Secretary of HUD (3) in a common area at all residential rental properties in which Defendants have an ownership and/or management interest. The sign must be no smaller than eleven (11) by fourteen (14) inches and shall indicate that all units are available for lease on a nondiscriminatory basis.
- Include the words "Equal Housing Opportunity" in all advertising conducted by or on behalf of Defendants for Defendants' residential rental properties in newspapers, telephone directories, radio, television or other media, and on all billboards, signs, pamphlets, brochures and other promotional literature used to communicate with tenants, prospective tenants, or applicants. Those words should be prominently placed and easily legible. The fair housing logo shall appear on all written advertisements. In addition, all newspaper and radio advertising placed by Defendants subsequent to the entry of this Order shall conform to the practices recommended in the HUD advertising guidelines. (4)
- COMPLAINT POLICY
It is further ORDERED that Defendants shall establish a Complaint Policy, which will afford tenants and staff (including, but not limited to, all managers, rental agents, caretakers and maintenance workers) of all units owned (in whole or in part), managed and/or operated by Defendants the opportunity to raise concerns about the practices of Defendants, their employees and agents that relate to the rights afforded by the Fair Housing Act.
The Complaint Policy shall include procedures for recording the complaint and addressing concerns raised in any complaint in an expeditious manner. Upon receipt of any complaint by any of the Defendants or their agents or employees, Defendants shall provide the complaining parties with information regarding the procedure for filing a HUD complaint, as well as the telephone numbers of persons or agencies that can provide advice and assistance regarding the Fair Housing Act and HUD Fair Housing complaints. This policy shall be mailed to counsel for Plaintiff and published to all current tenants, agents, employees, and staff within thirty (30) days after entry of this Order and shall be provided to all new tenants upon execution of a lease and to all new agents, employees, and staff upon hiring.
- RECORD KEEPING
It is FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants shall, for a period of four (4) years following the entry of this Order, preserve:
- all records which are the source of, or contain, any of the information pertinent to Defendants' obligations under this Order, including, but not limited to, records and documents related to:
- tenants' requests for reasonable accommodations; and
- the termination or discipline of employees; and
- representative samples of all advertising and other notices used to promote dwellings owned or managed by Defendants, including the date and medium of communication in which such advertising was published or broadcast; and
- copies of the complaint policies adopted by Defendants as required by this Order and a record of tenant complaints received pursuant to the policy.
- INSPECTION OF RECORDS
It is FURTHER ORDERED that the United States shall have the right to inspect and have Defendants copy, at Defendants' expense, any of the records described in Section V. above, as well as any other documents relevant to Defendants' compliance with this Consent Order. The United States shall provide reasonable notice to Defendants of a request to inspect and/or copy records and shall endeavor to minimize any inconvenience to Defendants during the inspection and copying of such records.
- REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
It is FURTHER ORDERED that six (6) months after the entry of this Order, and thereafter every six (6) months for a period of four (4) years after entry of this Order, Defendants shall deliver to counsel for the United States a report containing the following information:
- Copies of all policies and procedures established, published and/or circulated in accordance with the terms of this Order;
- The identification, including the name, address and number of units, or any residential rental property in which Defendants commenced any ownership or management interest during the reporting period.
- Any change in ownership or management of Brazoria Manor Apartments, Ltd., Brazoria Manor, Ltd., Johnson Enterprises, Ltd., Apartments, Johnson Enterprises, Ltd., and Johnson Enterprises Management Co.; and
- Representative copies of any advertisements conducted by Defendants regarding Defendants' properties during the reporting period.
- NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENT
It is FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants shall advise counsel for the United States in writing within fourteen (14) days of the receipt of any written complaint against Defendants, any Defendant, or against any of Defendants' employees, rental agents or residential rental properties, regarding a violation of the Fair Housing Act and any other complaint or violation relating to equal opportunity in housing. This notification shall include a copy and full details of the complaint and a description and records of any action taken by the Defendants in response to the complaint, and shall be accompanied by copies of all other pertinent documents. (5)
- MONETARY RELIEF
It is FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants shall pay to Betty Walters the total sum of Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000) in full and final settlement of any and all claims, demands, actions and/or causes of action which Ms. Walters has or may claim to have against any of the Defendants, their officers, directors, agents, representatives, partners, successors, heirs or assigns, arising from or related to the claims made, or which could have been made, relating to the facts alleged by the United States in this action. The Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000) shall be payable in four (4) equal monthly installments of $3,750 each, with the first payment being due and payable on the 15th day of May, 2001, and additional payments of $3,750 each being due and payable on the 15th day of each calendar month thereafter until all four (4) installments have been paid. Payment of each such installment shall be made by certified check or money order payable to the order of Betty Walters and shall be delivered to Lori Keitz Wagner, counsel for plaintiff, at the address provided below.
- NONSUIT OF COUNTY COURT ACTION
Defendant Brazoria Manor Apartments, Ltd. shall nonsuit the Brazoria County Court at Law No. 2 action entitled Brazoria Manor Apartments v. Texas Workforce Commission, and Betty Walters (Cause No. 25,794S) with prejudice within seven (7) days of the entry of this Consent Order.
- FULL AND FINAL MUTUAL RELEASE
The parties shall execute a Full and Final Mutual Release of Claims, in the form of Attachment A, signifying that the terms and conditions set forth herein constitute full settlement of any and all claims of any kind, nature and description whatsoever they may have against each other up to and including the date of entry of this Consent Order. See Attachment A. The parties shall execute said Mutual Release at the time this Consent Agreement is executed, and the Mutual Release shall be incorporated into the terms of and filed with this Consent Order.
- EMPLOYMENT REFERENCE
Defendants agree that they and their agents, employees and representatives will not give any adverse information regarding Betty Walters to any person or party whatsoever. If employment references are sought by prospective employers or other persons, Defendants, their agents, employees and representatives shall respond to the inquiry by explaining that the employer is barred from giving any reference by company policy, with the exception that Defendants shall provide the positions held, the dates of employment and salary information consistent with Ms. Walters' employment record. In addition, at the time this agreement is executed, Defendants shall sign the employment reference included herein as Attachment B. The letter of reference shall be executed on the Defendants' original letterhead and shall be signed by Defendant Clute. In the event that Defendants, or any of them, provide any adverse information about Betty Walters in response to any person requesting an employment reference, each such occurrence shall constitute a material breach of the terms of this Order, and Plaintiff may seek a Court order requiring Defendants to pay Ms. Walters Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars and 00/100 ($2,500.00) as compensatory damages for each such occurrence and seeking such other relief as the United States may deem necessary to ensure future compliance with the terms of this Order.
- LOW-INCOME HOUSING TAX CREDIT PROGRAM COMPLIANCE
Defendants are hereby notified that, in the event that Defendants fail to comply with any of the terms of this Consent Order and the United States obtains a Court Order establishing such noncompliance, the United States may take any appropriate action, including but not limited to notifying the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs of the noncompliance. See 26 U.S.C. Section 42 (m)(1)(B)(iii).
Defendants agree that the United States of America and Betty Walters, by entering into this agreement, do not waive the rights of any third parties to enforce or pursue any rights against Defendants. Defendants further agree that the United States of America does not waive any rights with respect to any matter not specifically raised in the Complaint filed in this action; however, it is the intent of the parties by entering into this Consent Order to resolve all matters and issues arising from or relating to the facts and matters identified in and made the basis of the Complaint. Further, the United States and Betty Walters, by entering into this agreement, are not liable in any way for the actions or policies of Defendants, whether or not such policies or actions are adopted pursuant to this Order.
- DURATION OF ORDER
- The Court retains jurisdiction to enforce the terms of this Order for a period of four (4) years and ninety (90) days following the date of its entry. The parties to this Order shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of and compliance with this Order prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution.
- In the event that the Defendants either fail to perform in a timely manner any act required by this Order or act in violation of any provision of this Order, the United States may move the Court to impose any remedy authorized by law or equity, including but not limited to, an order requiring performance or non-performance of certain acts and an award of any damages, costs and attorneys' fees that may have been occasioned by Defendants' non-action or actions.
- The provisions of this Order shall apply to Defendants, their employees, agents, successors, assigns, anyone acting under their direction and all those acting in concert or participation with any of them.
This case shall be dismissed forthwith without prejudice to the rights of any party to bring this matter before the Court for enforcement of the provisions of this Order at any time during the duration of the Order. This case will be dismissed with prejudice four (4) years and ninety (90) days from the date of entry of this Order unless the United States moves to object at least thirty (30) days prior to dismissal.
It is so ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED this _____________________ day of May, 2001.
The Honorable Samuel B. Kent
United States District Judge
Southern District of Texas
The undersigned apply for and consent to the entry of this Order:
|For Defendants:||For the United States:|
|William R. Teomans
Acting Assistant Attorney General
for the Civil Rights Division
|Randy E. Moore, Esq.
Gilbert & Moore, PLLC
#7 West Way Court, Suite C
Lake Jackson, TX 77566
Phone: (979) 297-2631
Facsimile: (979) 297-1580
|Joan A. Magagna, Chief
Jeanine M. Worden, Deputy CHief
Lori K. Wagner, Trial Attorney
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
Phone: (202) 305-3107
ATTACHMENT A FULL AND FINAL MUTUAL RELEASE OF CLAIMS
In consideration of the release of claims set forth herein and other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which are hereby acknowledged, Defendants BRAZORIA MANOR APARTMENTS, LTD., BRAZORIA MANOR, LTD., JOHNSON ENTERPRISES, LTD. APARTMENTS, JOHNSON ENTERPRISES LTD., JOHNSON ENTERPRISES MANAGEMENT CO., a/k/a JEM-CO, JAN R. CLUTE, individually and in her official capacity, and JEAN E. JOHNSON, individually and in her official capacity, and their directors, officers, managers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, members, insurers, heirs, assigns, predecessors, successors-in-interest, and any other persons or entities with which Defendants were, or are, associated (collectively, the "Brazoria Releasees") hereby release, acquit, and forever discharge Betty Walters and her agents, servants, employees, insurers, heirs, assigns, predecessors, and successors-in-interest (collectively, the "Complainant Releasees") from any and all manner of injuries, debts, suits, dues, claims, demands, contracts, judgments, damages, costs, proceedings, and causes of action of any kind, whether in contract or in tort or arising from a statute, the Brazoria Releasees ever had, now have, or may hereafter have, whether known or unknown, accrued or not accrued, suspected or unsuspected, arising out of, or which may in the future arise out of, or in any way relate to, the facts and claims alleged in the complaint filed by the United States in the matter captioned United States of America v. Brazoria Manor Apartments, Ltd., et al., Civil Action No. G-00-700 (the "Fair Housing Act Lawsuit") and the lawsuit captioned Brazoria Manor Apartments v. Texas Workforce Commission and Betty Walters, Cause No. 25,794S (the "Unemployment Compensation Lawsuit")and/or Betty Walters' employment with and/or termination from employment with any of the Brazoria Releasees.
In consideration of the release of claims set forth herein and other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which are hereby acknowledged, including Defendants' promise and agreement to pay to Complainant, Betty Walters, the sum of Fifteen Thousand and No/100 Dollars ($15,000.00) in four equal installments of Three Thousand Seven Hundred Fifty and No/100 Dollars ($3,750.00), which payments shall be made by Defendants on May 15, 2001, June 15, 2001, July 15, 2001 and August 15, 2001, the Complainant Releasees hereby release, acquit, and forever discharge the Brazoria Releasees from any and all manner of injuries, debts, suits, dues, claims, demands, contracts, judgments, damages, costs, proceedings, and causes of action of any kind, whether in contract or in tort or arising from a statute, the Complainant Releasees ever had, now have, or may hereafter have, whether known or unknown, accrued or not accrued, suspected or unsuspected, arising out of, or which may in the future arise out of, or in any way relate to, the facts and claims alleged in the Fair Housing Act Lawsuit, the Unemployment Compensation Lawsuit and/or Betty Walters' employment with and/or termination from employment with any of the Brazoria Releasees. It is specifically understood and agreed, however, that this release shall not relieve Defendants nor the Brazoria Releasees from any obligation on their part, or on the part of any one of them individually, to comply with the terms of the Consent Order to which this Release is attached.
Complainant Releasees and Defendant Releasees intend this mutual release to be as broad as possible and to include all present, past or future claims against each other for any and all actual, punitive, statutory or any other damages, including attorneys fees, costs and expenses, in any way arising or connected with Betty Walters' employment with any of the Brazoria Releasees, and the facts and /or claims alleged and/or made in the Fair Housing Act Lawsuit and the Unemployment Compensation Lawsuit.
Complaintant Betty Walters
I hereby certify that the above signature is the signature of Complainant Betty Walters, and that she has read this Consent Order and Full and Final Mutual Release of Claims before signing the same. I have explained to her that the execution of this instrument among other things releases Defendants and Defendant Releasees of and from all causes of action on account of the transactions described above and made the basis of the claims asserted in the above described and numbered proceeding.
Bob D. Brown, Esq.
Attorney for Complainant Betty Walters
Houston, Marek & Griffin, L.L.P.
120 Main Place, Suite 600
Victoria, Texas 77901
To Whom It May Concern:
Ms. Betty Walters was employed at our _____________________ facility from ________ (Date) to _______ (Date) in the position of __________________ at a yearly salary of ________. Ms. Her duties included: _________________________________________________. Ms. Walters was employed at our _____________________ facility from ________ (Date) to _______ (Date) in the position of __________________ at a yearly salary of ________. Ms. Her duties included: _________________________________________________.
By: Jan Clute
For: (Employers' Names)
1. / Defendants shall direct the requests for training to: Jaime K. Jamison, Director of FHEO, P.O. Box 2905, Forth Worth, Texas 76113, and shall forward a copy of each request to counsel for Plaintiff.
2. / The Certifications shall be sent to the attention of: Lori Keitz Wagner, Esq., U.S. Department of Justice, at the address listed below.
3. See 24 C.F.R. Part 110.
4. / See 24 C.F.R. Part 109.
5. The required information and documents shall be addressed to: Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice, Post Office Box 65998, Washington, D.C. 20035-5998.
Document Signed: June 14, 2001. > >