WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that it has reached an agreement resolving a housing discrimination lawsuit against the Walter Perlick Family Trust, Robert Perlick, Patricia Russell, and the estate of Toney Russell concerning alleged discrimination on the basis of familial status. Under the consent decree, filed today in federal court in Milwaukee, the defendants will pay $50,000 in monetary relief to the complainants and the United States.
The Department’s complaint alleged that these landlords and apartment managers violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against potential renters by refusing to rent an apartment to a woman and her minor daughter, employing rental practices that discouraged families with children from renting the apartments, and making statements that discriminated based on familial status.
“The Fair Housing Act ensures that families searching for a place to live are protected from discrimination,” said Rena J. Comisac, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department’s vigorous enforcement of the federal fair housing laws helps ensure that parents can search for homes in which to shelter their families without fear of this kind of discrimination.”
The consent decree, which must be approved by the U.S. District Court in Milwaukee, calls for training, a nondiscrimination policy, record keeping, and monitoring. Additionally, defendants will pay $39,000 in damages to the complainants and $11,000 in civil penalties to the United States.
The case originated when Sharon Spears and her daughter filed discrimination complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD conducted an investigation, found that the defendants discriminated on the basis of familial status, and the case was referred to the Justice Department.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Since Jan. 1, 2001, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has filed 232 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act, 46 of which have alleged discrimination based on familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line (1-800-896-7743), email the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.