WASHINGTON - The Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against the owners and operators of an apartment complex in Kansas City, Kan., and against the former on-site manager of the complex, for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against African-Americans on the basis of race, and by retaliating against a former employee of the complex for aiding and encouraging tenants to exercise the rights granted by the Fair Housing Act.
The Department’s lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Kansas City, alleges that Stacy Sturdevant, the former manager of the Central Park Towers Apartments, a 195-unit complex for persons with disabilities and elderly individuals, displayed racially hostile items on the premises, including a hangman’s noose; distributed racially hostile materials while on the premises; pervasively used racial slurs and directed racially derogatory remarks to African-American tenants and to persons who associated with African-American tenants; and treated African-American tenants less favorably than tenants in the terms and conditions of their tenancy.
The suit alleges that AIMCO Properties L.P., Apartment Investment & Management Company d/b/a AIMCO, AIMCO-GP Inc., NHPMN Management LLC, NHP Management Company, and the owners and operators of the complex Central Park Towers II, L.P., were aware or should have been aware of Ms. Sturdevant’s conduct..
"The home should be a safe place free from racially hostile remarks and discriminatory actions," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "The Civil Rights Division will continue to vigorously prosecute incidents of housing discrimination."
The Department’s amended complaint also alleges that the defendants terminated Melissa Kothe, a subordinate of Sturdevant, because she engaged in efforts to help tenants exercise their fair housing rights.
The suit seeks monetary damages to compensate victims, civil penalties, mandatory Fair Housing Act training and a court order barring future discrimination.
The original lawsuit, filed on June 1, 2007, arose as a result of a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by Ms. Kothe and did not include the race discrimination claim.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. Since January 1, 2001, the Civil Rights Division has filed 263 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act, 76 of which have alleged discrimination based upon race or color. For more information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it governs, visit http://www.usdoj.gov/crt.