FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT
OF FAIR HOUSING LITIGATION AGAINST INTERNET WEBSITE
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced the settlement of a lawsuit filed under the Fair Housing Act against the owner of an Internet website - www.theSublet.com - alleging that it published discriminatory rental advertisements.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, was the first of its kind brought by the Justice Department, applying the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition of discriminatory advertising to Internet publishing. The lawsuit alleged that Spyder Web Enterprises, LLC - the proprietor of the website - published notices and advertisements on the site that discriminated on the basis of race, sex, familial status and national origin.
“The internet increasingly serves as consumers’ primary source of housing-related information,” said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “In light of its potential to supplant traditional methods of advertising, it is imperative that federal laws prohibiting discriminatory advertising, such as the Fair Housing Act, be enforced as vigorously with regard to Internet advertising as it is to print and broadcast media.”
Under the consent decree, which requires court approval, Spyder Web Enterprises will establish a $10,000 victim fund to compensate individuals injured by the defendant’s practices, and will also pay a civil penalty of $5,000. In addition, Spyder Web Enterprises will adopt a non-discrimination policy to be published on its website and will require employees to undergo training to ensure future compliance.
Individuals who believe that they may have been the victim of discrimination as a result of accessing the www.theSublet.com website should call the Justice Department’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section at 1-800-896-7743.
Additional information about the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division is available on the Justice Department website at <http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing>.