WASHINGTON – The United States has reached a settlement resolving a housing discrimination lawsuit in Pennsylvania concerning discrimination against families with children, the Justice Department announced.
Under the terms of the consent decree, filed today in federal court in Scranton, Pa., defendants Gerard Joyce, Katie Joyce, Daniel Joyce, Normandy Holdings LLC, Lofts at the Mill LP and Lofts GP LLC, are required to pay $35,000 in monetary relief to two victims of discrimination and to the United States.
The department’s complaint, which originated from an investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), alleged that the owners, property managers and management company for "The Mill" luxury apartments violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent apartments to persons with children and by advertising discriminatory, "21 years or older," tenant policies in multiple Scranton newspapers. On Nov. 16, 2009, the court granted the United States’ motion for summary judgment on liability.
"Families should not be barred from living in the home of their dreams because they have children. The Fair Housing Act ensures that families searching for a home are protected from this kind of discrimination," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department will continue to vigorously protect the civil rights of families in Pennsylvania and across the country."
"HUD brought this case because publishing ads that tell families with children they are not welcome is illegal," said John Trasvina, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "Families may not be systematically denied access to the educational and economic opportunities a neighborhood affords."
Under the consent decree, which must be approved by the federal court in Scranton, the defendants must pay $15,000 to a mother and father who were denied housing because they had a one-year old daughter. The defendants must also pay an additional $20,000 to the government as a civil penalty. The settlement calls for numerous corrective measures, including training, a nondiscrimination policy, record keeping and monitoring.
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability.
More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt/. Persons who believe they have experienced or witnessed unlawful housing discrimination may call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777. More information about the Fair Housing Act can also be found at http://www.justice.gov/crt/housing/ or http://www.hud.gov/fairhousing.