The United States has settled a housing discrimination lawsuit in Euless, Texas, concerning discrimination against persons of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, the Justice Department announced today. Under the agreement, defendants in United States v. Stonebridge at Bear Creek LLP et al will pay a total of $107,000 in civil penalties and $210,000 in a damages fund to compensate victims of the defendants’ discrimination identified during the term of the agreement.
The agreement was filed today in federal court in Dallas and takes the form of a joint proposed order whose terms may be enforced by the court. The department’s complaint alleged that, for several years, the owners, employees and management company of Stonebridge at Bear Creek Apartments violated the Fair Housing Act by denying housing opportunities to persons of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent. Among other unlawful actions, Stonebridge’s property manager ordered leasing agents to misrepresent apartment availability based on the accent and perceived race or national origin of potential tenants, and to segregate those approved tenants of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent into two buildings in order to isolate any smells allegedly associated with ethnic cuisine that the manager disliked.
“The Fair Housing Act ensures that people searching for a home are protected from discrimination, no matter what part of the world their family comes from” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously protect the rights of all individuals to obtain housing free from discrimination.”
Under the agreement, which must be approved by the federal court in Texas, the defendants must adopt a nondiscrimination policy and enact or undertake numerous other corrective measures, including training, record keeping and monitoring. In addition, the property manager who ordered the discrimination will no longer be employed by the owners of Stonebridge at Bear Creek Apartments or its management company.
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the department’s Civil Rights Division. 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 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 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 www.justice.gov/crt/housing/ or www.hud.gov/fairhousing .