WASHINGTON - The Justice Department announced today that Orland Park, Ill., property owner Terence Flanagan has agreed to pay $35,000 in monetary damages and civil penalties to settle consolidated Fair Housing Act lawsuits against him. The lawsuits alleged that Flanagan discriminated against a family that tried to rent a single-family home from him, and that Flanagan made repeated statements to fair housing testers expressing a preference not to rent the home to African-Americans.
Today’s settlement, which has been approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, resolves a lawsuit filed by the department and one filed by Kemal Majied and the South Suburban Housing Center, a private fair housing organization, against Flanagan in late 2009. Mr. Majied, who is African-American, and his family unsuccessfully sought to rent a single-family home that Flanagan had advertised for rent and contacted the South Suburban Housing Center for assistance. Both the Housing Center and the department later sent fair housing testers to the property, where Flanagan stated he would rent the house to a white tester for $100 less than the advertised rate, and further stated “you’re not black, that’s the reason you’re getting that.”
“This kind of discrimination is illegal and has no place in the housing market anywhere in this country,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “This lawsuit demonstrates the department’s resolve to pursue and eradicate such discrimination, whether practiced by housing providers large or small.”
“This settlement reflects our resolve to guard against acts of discrimination and to protect the right of all area residents to seek housing wherever they choose to live,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald.
Under the terms of the settlement, Flanagan will pay $15,000 each to Mr. Majied and the Housing Center and a $5,000 civil penalty to the United States. The settlement also prohibits Flanagan from personally managing or renting any properties for its five-year term. In addition, Flanagan admits in the settlement that he made the statements to the fair housing testers alleged in the complaints against him.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination should call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line (1-800-896-7743) or email the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org . Such persons may also contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777 or at www.hud.gov . Fair housing enforcement is a priority of the department’s Civil Rights Division. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt .