WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced this week that it has filed a lawsuit against TK Properties L.L.C., its officer, Scott Terveen, and two employees, Ann Wagner and Corey Anderson, for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating on the basis of race. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of South Dakota, charges that the defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by creating a hostile housing environment for one African- American family and two white families who were tenants at Lakeport Village Apartments in Sioux Falls, S.D.
"All Americans are guaranteed the right to live in their homes without fear of discrimination because of their race, and housing providers should know that the Department of Justice is committed to protecting that right," said the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Thomas E. Perez. "We will continue to vigorously prosecute those who stand in the way of achieving the Fair Housing Act’s goal of allowing all people to live in communities that are free of racial hostility."
This lawsuit arose as a result of complaints filed with HUD by the three families. After an investigation, HUD found reasonable cause to believe that unlawful discrimination had occurred and referred the matter to the Justice Department.
"For HUD and the Department of Justice to combat housing discrimination, we need people to report it when they see it," said John Trasviña, U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "That’s why it’s equally important that we enforce the law against anyone who attempts to intimidate those who report discrimination or who assists others trying to exercise their rights."
The suit seeks a court order declaring that defendants’ actions violate the Fair Housing Act, prohibiting future discrimination by the defendants, awarding monetary damages to all persons harmed by the defendants’ discriminatory practices and assessing a civil penalty to vindicate the public interest.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability or 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 email@example.com, or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.
The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct. The allegations must still be proven in federal court.