WASHINGTON – The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today jointly announced an agreement with the owners and managers of Pina’s Mobile Home Park in Daphne, Ala., to settle allegations of discrimination against families with children. Under the consent decree, approved today in federal court in Mobile, Ala., the defendants must pay up to $104,130 to victims of discrimination and an additional $30,000 to the government as a civil penalty.
The lawsuit, in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office served as lead counsel, originated from a charge filed by HUD on behalf of a woman who tried to rent at Pina’s Mobile Home Park, but was told she had too many children (three) to live in the park. Numerous other tenants were charged extra monthly fees for having children in their mobile homes. The complaint alleges that Arthur C. Witherington and Pina D. Witherington violated the Fair Housing Act when they discriminated against applicants and tenants with children under 18.
"Limiting how many children a tenant can have and charging extra fees for children are discriminatory, and families are protected from this kind of discrimination by the Fair Housing Act," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King of the Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division will vigorously enforce the law to prevent such discrimination."
"This District made Civil Rights litigation one of its highest priorities two years ago. We've assisted the Civil Rights Division on a number of cases and have served as lead litigators on two housing cases at the Division's request," said Acting U.S. Attorney Eugene Seidel for the Southern District of Alabama. "I commend Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Moore for his skill and hard work as the lead attorney on this case. We will continue to work in cooperation with the Civil Rights Division, protecting the most vulnerable of our citizens is among the most important functions of the Justice Department."
"People do not lose their rights to fair housing because they have children," said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "HUD and the Department of Justice will defend their rights vigorously."
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.usdoj.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.usdoj.gov/crt/housing/ or www.hud.gov/fairhousing.