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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 23, 2009
Justice Department Sues Chicago Area Landlord for Refusing to Rent to African Americans

WASHINGTON – The United States has filed a lawsuit against Terence Flanagan, a Chicago area property owner and rental agent, alleging that he refused to rent properties he owned or controlled to African-Americans, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act, the Justice Department announced.

The lawsuit, filed today in federal court in Chicago, alleges that Flanagan refused to rent a single-family house he owns in Orland Park, Ill., to Kamal Alex Majeid, who is African-American, because of his race. The lawsuit also alleges that Flanagan asked a white tester employed by the Justice Department whether her husband was African-American and admitted to her that he did not want to rent to African-Americans. The suit further alleges that Flanagan told this tester that he had numerous other rental properties in the Chicago area.

Testers are individuals who pose as applicants for housing and report on their interactions with housing providers to determine the providers’ compliance with fair housing laws. Since 1991, the Department has operated a Fair Housing Testing Program whereby it uses federal employees or contractors as testers to identify violations of the Fair Housing Act.

"Racial discrimination has no place in this nation, particularly when it stands in the way of an individual satisfying a basic need like housing," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. "This lawsuit makes clear that such discrimination will not be tolerated, and we will use all tools at our disposal to root out unlawful discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities."

"We are committed to seeking out discrimination and acting forcefully to eliminate it in all its forms from the Chicago-area housing market," said Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

This lawsuit resulted from a complaint submitted to the Justice Department by the South Suburban Housing Center, a private suburban Chicago fair housing organization, after it was contacted by Majeid. Majeid filed a lawsuit against Flanagan in August. That lawsuit is currently pending in federal court before the Honorable Samuel Der-Yeghiayan. The United States’ complaint seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination by the defendant, monetary damages for those harmed by the defendant’s actions and a civil penalty.

Individuals who may have information related to this lawsuit should contact the Justice Department toll-free at 1-800-896-7743, mail box number 93, or email the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov. Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. 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 http://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 fairhousing@usdoj.gov, or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.

The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct. The allegations must be proven in federal court.

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