Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

Civil Action No. 00-C-1056

WELLSTON CORPORATION, d/b/a
WELLSTON PROPERTIES,
     Defendant.

_________________________________________

Consent Order

The United States, through the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, initiated this action pursuant to Section 814 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3601, et seq.

Wellston Corporation, operating under the name of Wellston Properties (hereafter "Wellston"), manages rental properties located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at 3715 S. 75th Street, 3723 S. 75th Street, 3733 S. 75th Street, 3743 75th Street, 7251 W. Tripoli Avenue, 7301 W. Tripoli Avenue and 7309 W. Tripoli Avenue (hereafter collectively the "Tripoli Apartments") and at 1579 and 1580 N. Farwell Avenue (hereafter collectively the Brixen Apartments), and other real estate located in Milwaukee County consisting of residential rental apartments.

The United States Department of Justice conducted an investigation to determine Defendant's compliance with the Fair Housing Act. As part of its investigation, the Department of Justice and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council (hereafter "MMFHC") conducted a series of tests to evaluate the Defendant's compliance with the Fair Housing Act. Based on those tests, the United States has alleged that Defendant, by and through its resident managers, engaged in a pattern or practice of racial discrimination at the Tripoli and Brixen apartments located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(a), (b) and (d), and familial status discrimination at the Brixen Apartments in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(a), (b), (c) and (d). The United States did not allege that the owners or officers of Wellston Corporation personally participated in any alleged act of discrimination.

Wellston Corporation contests these allegations and expressly denies that any of its employees or agents have engaged in discrimination based on race, familial status, or any other unlawful factor, at the Tripoli Apartments, Brixen Apartments, or any other residential apartment unit under its ownership or management.

The parties have agreed that, in order to avoid protracted and costly litigation, this controversy should be resolved without further litigation. Therefore, without a trial or adjudication on the merits, and without any admission of liability by Defendant, the parties have consented to the entry of this Order.

Therefore, it is ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED as follows:

  1. Scope and Duration of Consent Order
  1. The provisions of this Consent Order shall apply to Defendant, Wellston Corporation, and its employees and agents.(1)
  2. Except where specified otherwise, and except for Sections VII and VIII, which provide for compensation of any aggrieved persons and the payment of a civil penalty, the provisions of this Consent Order shall apply to the following rental properties, which are owned and/or managed in whole or in part by the Defendant, so long as each such property is owned and/or managed in whole or in part by the Defendant:
    1. Tripoli Apartments: 3715, 3723, 3733, and 3743 S. 75th Street, and 7251, 7301, and 7309 W. Tripoli Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    2. Brixen Apartments: 1579 and 1580 N. Farwell Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    3. 820 and 909 E. Henry Clay, Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.
    4. 930 N. Marshall Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    5. 1122 and 1130 E. Russell Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    6. 1318 N. Van Buren, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    7. 1524 E. Providence, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    8. 1929 and 1931 1st Avenue, Grafton, Wisconsin.
    9. 2103 E. Kenwood Boulevard, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    10. 2131 and 2260 N. Summit Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    11. 2424 E. Webster Place, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    12. 2465 N. Frederick Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    13. 2518 North Lake Drive, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    14. 2555 N. Farwell Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    15. 2600 E. Capitol Drive, Shorewood, Wisconsin.
    16. 2600 E. Bradford, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    17. 2611 N. Stowell Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    18. 2752 and 3220 N. Bartlett Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    19. 3069, 3237, 3456 and 3553 N. Oakland Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    20. 3849 S. 76th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    21. 4573, 5009 and 5017 S. Lake Drive, Cudahy, Wisconsin.
    22. 6012 and 6024 W. Cleveland, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    23. 6500 W. Howard, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    24. 7745 N. Port Washington, Glendale, Wisconsin.
    25. 8308 W. North Avenue, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.
    26. 12216 W. Bluemound, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  3. This Consent Order is effective immediately upon its entry by the Court and shall remain in effect for two (2) years from the date of entry or ninety (90) days after the last report under Section VI is received, whichever date is later, absent an extension as set forth in Section I.G, provided that the last payment required by Section VII has been made. If such payment has not been made at that time, the provisions of this Consent Order shall terminate ten (10) days after the last such payment is made.
  4. The Court shall retain jurisdiction over this action and over the Defendant during the two-year period specified above to insure compliance with all provisions of this Consent Order.
  5. The United States may move the Court to extend the period in which this Consent Order is in effect if it determines that Defendant likely has violated one or more terms of the Order or if the interests of justice otherwise require an extension of the terms of the Order.
  6. The parties to this Consent Order shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of and compliance with this Order prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution. However, in the event that the Defendant either fails to perform in a timely manner any act required by this Order or acts in violation of any provision of this Order, the United States may move the Court to impose any remedy authorized by law or equity, including, but not limited to, an order requiring performance or non-performance of certain acts and an award of any damages, costs, and attorneys' fees that may have been occasioned by the Defendant's non-action or actions.
  7. The parties agree that the time limits set forth throughout this Consent Order may be expanded upon mutual consent of the parties.

  1. Injunctive Relief

The Defendant and its agents, employees, and successors are enjoined, with respect to the rental of dwellings from:

  1. Refusing to rent a dwelling unit, refusing or failing to provide or offer information about a dwelling unit, or otherwise making unavailable or denying a dwelling unit to any person because of race, color, or familial status;
  2. Discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions or privileges of renting a dwelling unit, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race, color, or familial status;
  3. Making, printing, publishing, or causing to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the rental of a dwelling unit that states any preference, limitation or discrimination based on race, color, or familial status;
  4. Misrepresenting to any person because of race, color, or familial status that any dwelling unit is not available for inspection or rental when such dwelling unit is, in fact, so available; and
  5. Engaging in any other discriminatory housing practice prohibited by 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq.

  1. Notice to Public of Nondiscriminatory Policies

Within ten (10) days from the date of entry of this Consent Order, the Defendant shall take the following steps to notify the public of their nondiscriminatory policies:

  1. The Defendant shall prominently post in the rental office at the apartment complexes identified in I.B., a Fair Housing sign no smaller than 10 inches by 13 inches that indicates that all apartments are available for rent on a nondiscriminatory basis. The sign shall conform with guidance promulgated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  2. The Defendant shall prominently post in the rental office at the apartment complexes identified in I.B., a notice of the Defendant's nondiscriminatory policies, as described in Sections V and VI of this Consent Order. Copies of this notice shall be made available on request to all persons who inquire about apartments. A notice shall also be posted in each rental office identified above informing all persons of the availability of these copies.
  3. Whenever dwelling units are available at the apartment complexes listed in Section I.B., the Defendant shall prominently post an easily readable "For Rent" or "Vacancy" sign or notice at the entrance to the complex and in front of the rental office. The sign or notice shall include the slogan "Equal Housing Opportunity" and the fair housing logo.
  4. The Defendant shall include the words "Equal Housing Opportunity" and/or the fair housing logo in all advertising conducted for the apartment complexes listed in I.B. in newspapers (with the exception of classified advertisements), telephone directories and other written materials; on radio, television or other media broadcasts; and on all billboards, signs, pamphlets, brochures and other promotional literature. The words and/or logo shall be prominently placed and easily readable.
  5. Defendant shall include the following phrase in the standard rental application and lease used for all of its apartment complexes, using letters of equal size to those of the text in the body of the document:

    We are an equal housing opportunity provider. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, handicap or familial status (having children under age 18).

  1. Mandatory Education and Training
  1. No later than ninety (90) days after entry of this Order, Defendant's corporate employees directly involved with the apartment rental process, the individuals named in Exhibit A, and resident managers of the property complexes identified under I.B., shall complete an educational program, to be conducted at the Defendant's expense by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council (MMFHC) or other qualified organization approved by the United States. In the event MMFHC receives a contribution from Defendant pursuant to VII.G., Defendant may apply those funds to the cost of such training, including materials. This education program shall include the following elements:
    1. Instruction of persons in their duties and obligations under this order as well as under the federal Fair Housing Act and applicable state laws;
    2. Provision of a copy of the federal Fair Housing Act to each person;
    3. Instruction on procedures to insure that race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin does not affect the provision of rental information to inquiring persons or the making of decisions on rental applications;
    4. A question and answer session to review each of the foregoing areas;
    5. Acquisition from each person attending of a signed statement conforming to the example in Attachment B indicating that he or she has received, read, and understood this Order and the requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
    6. Certification, by the organization conducting the educational program, of each attendee's completion of the program.
  2. While this Order is in effect, Defendant shall instruct each resident manager not trained under IV.A. regarding its corporate non-discrimination policy and procedures and the requirements of this Order and the Fair Housing Act. Defendant shall also provide each such resident manager or other covered employee with a copy of its corporate policy and procedures manual, this Order, and the Fair Housing Act, and obtain from each a signed statement confirming that such instruction has been received and that the individual understands his/her obligations. The requirements of this subparagraph IV.B. shall be met within ninety (90) days of each such individuals' start date.

  1. Standards for Accepting and Processing Applications

No later than ten (10) days after entry of this Order, the Defendant shall, for the properties identified in Section I.B.:

  1. Keep a list of the dwellings known or expected soon to be available for rental, including for each the address or apartment number, number of bedrooms, monthly rent, and availability date;
  2. Keep, in chronological order by date and time of inquiry, a waiting list of persons who inquire about renting dwellings and who request to be placed on such a list. The list shall include the person's name, current address, telephone number(s), a description of the dwelling desired (e.g., number of bedrooms), the date the person is added to the list, and the requested move-in date. When a dwelling of the type sought becomes available for rent, the Defendant shall make a good faith effort to contact each person on the waiting list for that building by telephone and/or mail to advise them of the vacancy. The Defendant shall note on the list the date and time of each attempt to reach persons on the list. The obligation to notify individuals on the list shall expire (1) forty-five (45) days after the requested move-in date for each person on the list, (2) upon being advised that the person on the list is no longer interested in renting at that location; or (3) upon rejection of applicant by Defendant for any lawful reason, whichever occurs first.
  3. Inform everyone who inquires about dwellings of all available units meeting their requirements, and, if none are available, give them an opportunity to have their names placed on the waiting list; and,
  4. Give everyone who inquires about dwellings an opportunity to complete a written rental application and have their names placed on the waiting list.

  1. Record Keeping and Monitoring
  1. Defendant shall keep the following records relating to its rental properties:
    1. A list of expected and actual dwelling vacancies, updated as information becomes available to indicate each dwelling known to be, or expected within 30 days to become, available for rent, indicating the number of bedrooms, monthly rent (including any rent special and/or other discounts), the date the Defendant learned it would be available for rent, and the date on which it is expected to be available for occupancy by a new tenant. Updates shall be made without loss of previously recorded information.
    2. A copy of all applications submitted, a record of the building and unit number for all approved applicants, and a written statement of explanation for all rejected applicants. Wellston's application form will include a space for each person to record their race. The application form will further include the following statement: "The following information is requested to allow us to comply with the federal Fair Housing Act and will be kept confidential. Providing information on your race is voluntary and is not required in order to rent an apartment."
  2. No later than ninety (90) days after entry of this Order, the Defendant shall deliver to counsel for the United States(2) the following documents:
    1. Copies of all written verifications of training required under Section IV of this Order;
    2. A report based on good faith observation detailing the occupancy of each dwelling unit at the subject properties, if known, by race of occupant(s) as of the date of entry of this Order; and
    3. A photograph of each office or apartment in which rental or sales activity is conducted showing the fair housing signs required by Section III.A & B of this order.
  3. No later than six (6) months after entry of this Order, and every six (6) months thereafter while it is in effect, Defendant shall deliver to counsel for the United States a report covering the preceding six months containing information about the Defendant's compliance efforts, including but not limited to:
    1. Copies of mandatory education acknowledgments signed by the Defendant's new agents and employees pursuant to Section IV.B.;
    2. Copies of certifications of attendance, if any, pursuant to Section IV.B.;
    3. Copies of availability lists, rental application logs, and waiting lists maintained pursuant to Section V; and
    4. A list setting forth the occupancy of each dwelling unit at the subject properties by race of occupant(s) and indicating the number of occupants under the age of 18 years as of the close of the reporting period.
  4. While this Order is in effect, the Defendant shall preserve all records that are the source of, contain, or relate to any of the information pertinent to their obligations under this Order, including all rental applications, leases, and occupancy lists for dwellings at the subject properties. Upon reasonable notice to counsel for the Defendant, representatives of the United States, during normal business hours, shall be permitted to inspect and, at government expense, copy these records.
  5. If, while this Consent Order is in effect, any person or organization complains that they have been denied equal housing opportunity at the subject properties or that Defendant has committed housing discrimination, the Defendant shall so notify counsel for the United States in writing no later than 15 days after they learn of the complaint. If the complaint is written, the Defendant shall provide a copy of it with the notification; if the complaint is oral, the Defendant shall include a written summary of it with the notification. The notification shall include the full details of the complaint, including the complainant's name, address, and telephone number. The Defendant shall also promptly provide the United States all information it may request concerning any such complaint and its actual or attempted resolution. If, while this Order is in effect, the United States receives any such complaint, the United States shall confer with Defendant, as provided in I.F., prior to taking Court action

  1. Compensation of Aggrieved Persons
  1. No later than 90 business days after entry of this order the Defendant shall deposit in an interest-bearing account held in trust by counsel for the Defendant the sum of $50,000 for the purpose of compensating any aggrieved persons who may have been the victims of the discriminatory housing practices at the Brixen Apartments or Tripoli Apartments, for any injury they may have suffered (including personal injury, whether emotional or physical), identified through the procedures set forth in this section.
  2. At least every week during the four-week period commencing no later than 45 days following the entry of this Consent Order, including on at least three Sundays, the defendants shall publish a notice to potential victims of housing discrimination that conforms to the notice at Attachment D. Each notice shall appear in the news sections of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Milwaukee Community Journal. The notices in the Journal-Sentinel shall cover at least one-eighth of a page, and the notices in the Community Journal shall cover at least one-quarter of a page. The Defendant shall send a copy of the newspaper containing each notice to counsel for the United States no later than five days after its publication. Defendant shall also make written notification to counsel for the United States of the date on which the last notices were published in each newspaper, no later than five days after such publication.
  3. The Defendant shall produce or permit representatives of the United States to review any records that the United States believes may help it identify persons who may be entitled to relief under this order. Upon reasonable notice to counsel for the Defendant, representatives of the United States, during normal business hours, shall be permitted to inspect and, at government expense, copy these records.
  4. Allegedly aggrieved persons shall have 90 days from the date of the last published notice in which to contact the United States to assert any claims in connection with this order.
  5. No later than 180 days after publication of the last notice, the United States shall determine which persons who have timely contacted the United States are likely to have been victims of the discriminatory housing practices at the subject properties and shall, in its sole discretion, determine the amount of damages to be awarded to each person, provided that:
    1. No person shall be paid until he or she has executed a sworn statement verifying his/her claim and a written release (conforming to that at Attachment C) of all claims, legal or equitable, that he or she might have against the Defendant or its agents as relating to the claims asserted in this lawsuit; and
    2. The total amount to be paid by the Defendant pursuant to this subsection shall not exceed $50,000 plus accumulated interest.
  6. The United States shall notify the Defendant in writing of its determinations, with a copy of the supporting statement. No later than 30 days after receiving this notification, the Defendant shall deliver to counsel for the United States checks for the identified, aggrieved persons made payable as directed in the written notification. Counsel for the United States shall not give an aggrieved person his or her check until he or she has given the United States his or her executed release of claims in the form of Attachment C.
  7. If the United States distributes less than the total amount of compensation available, as specified above, the remainder shall be paid to one or more organizations approved by the United States to further fair housing in the Milwaukee area. The names and functions of the prospective organizations shall be identified by Wellston in writing and provided to counsel for the United States no later than thirty days from the entry of this consent order.

  1. Payment to the United States

No later than thirty (30) days after the entry of this Order, the Defendant shall pay the sum of $10,000 to the United States pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 3614(d)(1)(C). This payment shall be delivered to counsel for the United States in the form of a cashier's check payable to the "United States Department of Justice."

  1. Subsequent Violation

In the event that the defendant is found to violate the Fair Housing Act, such violation(s) shall constitute a "subsequent" violation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d).

ORDERED this _________ day of ____________________________, 2000.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

The undersigned agree to and request the entry of this Order:

For the United States:

Isabelee M. Thabault
Deputy Chief Michael L. Barrett
Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
(202) 514-2447

Thomas P. Schneider
United States Attorney
Francis D. Schmitz
Civil Chief
517 E. Wisconsin Street
Room 530
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
(414) 297-1700

For the Defendant,

Wellston Corporation, d/b/a Wellston Properties:
________________________


ATTACHMENT A

I understand that, as an employee and/or agent of Wellston Corporation, I am bound by the requirements of this Order. I have received copies of and have read the Order and the federal Fair Housing Act. I understand my legal responsibilities and will comply with those responsibilities. I further understand that the Court may impose sanctions on me if I violate a provision of the Order and that my employer may also impose sanctions on me, including dismissal, if I violate a provision of the Order.

I have been informed by my employer that I will not be reprimanded by my employer for providing truthful information to any law enforcement agency (including the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, P.O. Box 65998, Washington, D.C. 20035-5998, telephone 1-202-514-4713 or 1-800-896-7743) or official regarding my employer's compliance with the Fair Housing Act and/or this Order.

___________________________
MARY THIEMER

_____/______/_______
Date Signeded

___________________________
JERRY BRAUNREITER

_____/______/_______
Date Signeded


ATTACHMENT B

On __________________________, _____, I was instructed by _______________________________ with respect to my responsibilities under the Order entered by the federal district court in United States of America v. Wellston Corporation, d/b/a Wellston Properties, Case No._______ (E.D.Wis.), the federal Fair Housing Act, and applicable state laws. I also was instructed on Wellston Corporation's non-discrimination policy and fair housing procedures. I have received copies of and have read the Order and the federal Fair Housing Act. I understand my legal responsibilities and will comply with those responsibilities.

I have been informed by my employer that I will not be reprimanded by my employer for providing truthful information to any law enforcement agency (including the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, P.O. Box 65998, Washington, D.C. 20035-5998, telephone 1-202-514-4713 or 1-800-896-7743) or official regarding my employer's compliance with the Fair Housing Act and/or this Order.

____________________________
Signature

____________________________
Name Printed

____________________________
Date Signed


ATTACHMENT C RELEASE

In consideration for the parties' agreement to the terms of the Order entered in United States of America v. Wellston Properties, Inc., Case No.___________ (E.D. Wis.) and the Defendant's payment to me [and my spouse jointly] of

$__________________________, I hereby release and forever discharge all claims related to the facts at issue in the litigation referenced above, or in any way related to that litigation, and any other claims arising from alleged housing discrimination up to and including the date of execution of this release, that I may have against any of the Defendant, its officers, employees, agents, successors, and/or assigns.

I understand and acknowledge that the payment made by Defendant hereunder does not constitute, and shall not be construed as, an admission of any kind, and that Defendant has expressly denied liability.

I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

____________________________
Signature

____________________________
Name Printed

____________________________
Date Signed


ATTACHMENT D NOTICE TO POTENTIAL VICTIMS OF DISCRIMINATION AT
THE BRIXEN AND TRIPOLI APARTMENTS

On ____________________________________, 2000, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin entered an Order resolving a lawsuit brought by the United States Department of Justice alleging unlawful housing discrimination by the managers of the Brixen Apartments, located at 1579 and 1580 N. Farwell Avenue, and the Tripoli Apartments, located at 3715 S. 75th Street, 3723 S. 75th Street, 3733 S. 75th Street, 3743 75th Street, 7251 W. Tripoli Avenue, 7301 W. Tripoli Avenue and 7309 W. Tripoli Avenue. The lawsuit alleged that the Tripoli Apartments discriminated against black persons who sought rental housing and that the Brixen Apartments discriminated against families with children. The suit did not allege that the owners or officers of Wellston Corporation personally participated in any alleged act of discrimination.

Under this Order, you may be entitled to receive monetary relief if you asked about or applied for renting, or rented, an apartment at the Brixen Apartments or the Tripoli Apartments and:

  1. At the Tripoli: You were denied an opportunity to live at, were falsely told that no apartments were available at, or were otherwise discriminated against in connection with your occupancy or your attempt to rent a unit at, the Tripoli Apartments on the basis of your race or color or the race or color of someone who would be living with you.
  2. At the Brixen: You were denied an opportunity to live at, were falsely told that no apartments were available at, or were otherwise discriminated against in connection with your occupancy or your attempt to rent a unit at, the Brixen Apartments because your family consisted of one or more children under the age of 18.

If you believe any of the above circumstances apply to you or if you have any information about persons who may have been discriminated against on the basis of race, color, or familial status, please contact the United States Department of Justice at 1-800-896-7743. You may also write to:

United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998.

NOTE: You must call or write no later than ninety (90) days from [insert date of publication of last required advertisement].


1. These agents include the individuals named in the Complaint, who, although covered by this settlement, are not made party to the Consent Decree. By signing Attachment A, these individuals have acknowledged their legal obligations, as agents of Wellston, under the terms of this Decree.

2. All documents or other communications required by this order to be sent to counsel for the United States shall be addressed as follows: Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice, P.O. Box 65998, Washington, D.C. 20035-5998. > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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