Justice Department Settles Housing Discrimination Lawsuit in Rolla, Missouri
WASHINGTON -The Justice Department today announced that Roger Harris, Hediger Enterprises Inc., Carroll Management Group, Forum Manor Associates L.P. and Forum Manor LLC have agreed to pay $295,000 in monetary damages and civil penalties to resolve a Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, race and sex discrimination, retaliation and intimidation at Forum Manor Apartments, a federally-subsidized apartment complex in Rolla, Missouri.
The lawsuit, filed late on Friday, alleges that Mr. Harris, the former manager of Forum Manor, engaged in a pattern or practice of sexual harassment, race and sex discrimination, and retaliation, intimidation or coercion against current and prospective tenants. The lawsuit further alleges that Hediger Enterprises Inc., Carroll Management Group, Forum Manor Associates L.P. and Forum Manor LLC, which owned and managed the property, are liable for Mr. Harris’ actions.
The consent decree, once approved by the court, requires the defendants to pay $260,000 to thirteen victims and $35,000 to the United States as a civil penalty. The consent decree also prohibits all of the defendants from engaging in discrimination, and it requires that the corporate defendants create non-discrimination policies for its properties and participate in fair housing training to prevent such conduct in the future. It also prevents Mr. Harris from managing federally-subsidized properties in the future and limits his ability to manage other types of rental properties.
“No one should have to endure harassment, intimidation or discrimination in order to have housing for their family. It is illegal and a clear abuse of trust for managers and owners of federally-subsidized properties, whose job it is to provide safe and affordable housing to those in need, to engage in or condone harassment, intimidation and discrimination against tenants and applicants,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “This settlement sends the message that the Justice Department will not tolerate this conduct and will take aggressive action against those who participate in it.”
“The Fair Housing Act protects individuals from harassment and discrimination in housing based on race and gender, and shields them from retaliation when they come forward to report it,” said John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD and the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously protect the rights of all people to live in their homes, free from discrimination.”
This lawsuit arose out of complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by several former tenants and applicants of Forum Manor. After investigating the complaints, HUD issued a charge of discrimination and referred the case to the Department of Justice after one of the complainants elected to have the case heard in federal court.
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Department of Justice. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can 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.