FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLES DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION SUIT WITH JOHNSTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced an agreement with the City of Johnstown, Pennsylvania to settle a lawsuit alleging disability discrimination.
The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleged that Johnstown denied the American Legion Department of Pennsylvania Housing for Homeless Veterans a permit to operate a group home in Johnstown. According to the complaint, the city opposed the planned home because its residents would be persons with disabilities. During the course of litigation, the city had rescinded its denial of the permit.
“No American, least of all our veterans, should find their housing options limited because of their disabilities,” said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “Today’s settlement sends the important message that veterans with disabilities will not be shunned from our communities.”
“It is a vital role of the Justice Department to protect the rights of all Americans under the civil rights laws,” said Mary Beth Buchanan, United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. “Today’s settlement is a reflection of the Department’s fulfillment of that role.”
The settlement agreement, which must be approved by the court, enjoins the city from discriminating on the basis of disability in housing. In addition, the city will pay $82,500 in damages to the American Legion and a $15,000 civil penalty to the United States. Certain city employees will also receive training on the provisions of the Fair Housing Act.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. Since January 1, 2001, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has filed 122 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act, including 52 based on disability discrimination.
Additional information about the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section is available at: <http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing.>