FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
United States of America,
Civil Action No.: 1:00-cv-00276-SM
Richard Mills; Richard Mills
d/b/a Chestnut Properties;
and Albert Beland,
This action was filed by the United States on June 7, 2000 to enforce the provisions of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the Fair Housing Act), as amended by the Fair Housing Act Amendments of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. In its complaint, the United States alleges that defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of sex discrimination, in the form of sexual harassment, in the rental of apartments at 236 Douglas Street, Manchester NH, 03102, ("Haru Gari Apartments") in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Defendants Richard Mills and Richard Mills d/b/a/ Chestnut Properties are and have been at all times relevant to this action the owner of the Haru Gari Apartments. Defendant Albert Beland served as on site manager and Mills' agent at the Haru Gari Apartments from 1986 until 1999.
In its complaint the United States alleges specifically that Defendant Beland subjected female tenants to extensive, continuous, unwelcome, and uninvited sexual harassment; conditioned tenancy on compliance with sexual favors; and created a hostile environment for complainants and other female tenants, in violation of Sections 804(a), 804(b), 804(c), and 818 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(a),(b),(c) and 3617. The United States further alleges that defendant Mills knew or should have known of the discriminatory conduct of defendant Beland but failed to take action to curtail and/or prevent the discriminatory conduct of Albert Beland, in violation of Sections 804(a), 804(b), 804(c), and 818 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(a),(b),(c) and 3617. Defendants have filed an answer to this complaint in which they deny the United States' allegations.
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 of any of the facts alleged by the United States, the parties consent to the entry of this Decree. This agreement constitutes full resolution of the United States' pattern or practice claim brought pursuant to § 42 U.S.C. 3614, and resolves such claim on behalf of those persons-identified or unidentified-who were aggrieved by those actions of Defendants that formed the basis of the United States' claims in this lawsuit. However, this Decree shall not affect the rights, to the extent any such rights exist, of any unidentified aggrieved person under other sections of the Fair Housing Act.
- Defendants Mills and Beland
It is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND AGREED that defendants, their agents, employees, successors, and all persons in active concert or participation with any of them, are hereby permanently enjoined from:
- Discriminating on the basis of sex against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;
- Interfering with or threatening to take any action against any person in the exercise or enjoyment of rights granted or protected by the Fair Housing Act, as amended;
- Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to notify residents of their rental properties, as well as the public, that the properties will be operated in a manner so as not to discriminate on the basis of sex;
- Making requests for sexual favors, or conduct of a sexual nature, when submission to such requests is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's rental of a housing unit; or when submission to, or rejection of, such a request by an individual forms the basis for any housing decision affecting the individual;
- Making any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or conduct of a sexual nature when such advances or requests have the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's housing rights or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive housing environment; and
- Coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of having exercised or enjoyed, or on account of having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by the Fair Housing Act.
- Defendant Mills
In addition to the injunctive provisions outlined in I.A.1-6, it is hereby ORDERED that for a period of seven (7) years from the date of the entry of this Consent Decree defendant Mills, his agents, employees, successors, and all persons in active concert or participation with him, shall:
- Provide to the United States in writing the name and address of any residential rental property that is owned in whole or in part by Defendant Mills and not already listed in this Consent Decree, or that is acquired by him in the future, within fifteen (15) days of the date of entry of this Decree or within fifteen (15) days of his acquisition of the property, whichever is later. Defendant shall serve written notice on the United States of any company, entity or individual selected to manage, and/or perform duties and responsibilities of an on-site manager within fifteen (15) days of the date of entry of this Decree or of the managing company or agent's selection, whichever is later. Defendant shall also serve written notice on the United States of the name of the purchaser of any of his rental properties within fifteen (15) days of the date of sale. Defendant Mills shall send all documents he is required to send to the United States pursuant to this paragraph, and pursuant to any other provisions of this Decree with the exception of the checks described in Section II of this Decree, to: U.S. Department of Justice, 10th and Constitution Avenue, N.W., Civil Rights Division, Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, NWB, Suite 7002, Washington, D.C. 20530.
- Implement a written policy against sexual harassment; notify all tenants of defendant's written policy against sexual harassment, including formal complaint procedures; and notify all tenants that all dwellings owned, managed or leased by the defendant are available on an equal opportunity basis without regard to sex. The written policy and complaint procedure are attached to this Consent Decree as Exhibit A. Defendant shall disseminate such policies and procedures to all Haru Gari tenants within ten (10) days of the date on which the Court enters this Consent Order.
- Post an "Equal Housing Opportunity" sign in all rental offices and common areas of the Haru Gari Apartments, including the laundry facilities, which indicates that all apartments are available for rent on a nondiscriminatory basis. An 11 x 14 poster substantially equivalent to the reduced sample appended to this Decree as Exhibit B will satisfy this requirement. Such poster shall be placed in a prominent, well-lit, and easily readable location in all rental offices and common areas.
- Implement a fair housing training and education program for any and all individuals who have an ownership interest in, or have responsibility for managing or performing managerial duties or responsibilities at the Haru Gari Apartments, whether individually or as part of a management company or other entity, at any time during the term of this Decree. As part of this program, within three (3) months of the date of entry of this Order, all such persons including but not limited to Defendant Mills and any and all individuals currently serving as on-site managers at any property owned by Defendant Mills, shall attend fair housing training conducted by a qualified civil rights organization to be selected by Defendants subject to approval by the United States. Any person who is subject to this training requirement who is hired after the entry of this decree shall attend such training within two (2) months of the date on which he or she assumes such responsibilities. Any individual with regular responsibility for receiving repair or maintenance requests directly from tenants, or with duties and responsibilities of collecting rent from, showing apartments to, investigating the qualifications of, and/or determining whether or not to rent to potential tenants, and each individual who supervises the work of any such individual or entity, shall be required to participate in this program. Any and all costs and fees associated with the training program shall be borne by defendant.
Elements of the fair housing training program shall include, but not be limited to;
- Providing training on the non- discrimination requirements of the federal Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.;
- Providing each individual with a copy of this Consent Decree and information concerning the individual's duties and obligations under the Fair Housing Act and this Decree; and
- Furnishing to each individual a letter in the form set forth in Exhibit A summarizing defendant's policy of nondiscrimination, and sexual harassment complaint procedures; informing each such person of the duties of defendant, his agents and employees pursuant to these policies; and specifying what disciplinary measures may be taken in the event of noncompliance, including possible termination and/or sanctions by the Court.
- Upon completion of the training, each individual shall sign a written statement in the form set forth in Exhibit C attesting to the date on which the training was completed, and to the fact that (1) he or she has received, read and understands the statements of nondiscrimination outlined in Section I(B)(2) above; 2) he or she has received the instructions described in Section I(B)(4-5) above; and 3) he or she will comply with this Decree.
- Provide letters of apology to the four identified aggrieved persons in this action who will be receiving monetary damages in accordance with this settlement. Defendant Mills has sent the letters of apology to the United States, who will forward them to the aggrieved parties.
- Maintain the following records for Haru Gari Apartments and any other rental properties owned, managed, or acquired by Defendant Mills during the term of this Decree:
- Name and apartment number of each tenant, the date the tenant signed the lease, a copy of the signed lease, and date of renewal or termination. For individuals who moved out of the apartment prior to the expiration of their lease, the reasons for termination, eviction, or vacation of the apartment;
- Copies of all brochures used and advertisements placed by the defendants, including the dates and media in which they were published or distributed. All brochures and/or advertisements shall include either a fair housing logo, the words "equal housing opportunity provider," and/or the following sentence:
We are an equal opportunity housing provider. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability.
- Copies of statements of employees, agents, or entities retained by defendant to manage or perform the duties and responsibilities of manager at the Haru Gari Apartments in which they acknowledge that they understand their obligations under this Decree, as required by Paragraph 6 above; and
- A log of all discrimination complaints made by tenants or applicants--in writing, orally, or by any other means--against defendant Mills, his employees or agents, or other tenants, including the name and address of the complaining party, and the Defendant's response to the complaint.
- Allow the United States to inspect and copy all records described above, and other records relevant to compliance with this decree, upon reasonable notice to defendant. The United States shall attempt to minimize any inconvenience to the defendant during the inspection and copying of such records.
- Provide the United States six (6) months after entry of this Decree, and every six (6) months thereafter for a period of seven (7) years, a report containing the following:
- Copies of all records required to be maintained pursuant to paragraph 8 of this Decree that have not previously been forwarded pursuant to this paragraph;
- An affidavit from Defendant Mills affirming that all notices and signs required pursuant to Section I(B)(3) of the Decree have been posted, and specifying the locations in which they have been posted. If there has been no change in the location of the posters, and all posters previously affirmed remain visible in the same location(s), no new affidavit need be submitted;
- Copies of all letters and signed statements prepared or secured pursuant to Section I(B)(6) that have not previously been forwarded; and
- Report to the United States in writing within ten (10) days of receipt of any complaint that comes to the attention of defendant, whether communicated in writing, orally, or by any other means, of sexual harassment or any statements or conduct alleged to constitute sexual harassment, sexual assault, any unwanted physical touching, or any unwanted verbal comments of a sexual nature at any rental property owned, managed, or leased by the defendant involving allegations against any employee, contractor, agent, owner, or tenant at such property. Such report shall include full details of the complaint and any action taken or proposed by defendant in response.
- Report to the United States in the event Defendant Mills sells or otherwise disposes of his interest in any rental property owned, managed, or leased by him. Such notification shall be made at least thirty (30) days prior to the sale or transfer of interest and shall include the identity of the potential purchaser(s) or person(s) to whom the interest in being transferred.
- Report to the United States the identity of any entity or individual retained or used to manage or perform any of the duties and/or responsibilities of an apartment manager at any rental property owned by Defendant Mills, including but not limited to, collecting rent, receiving repair or maintenance requests directly from tenants, showing apartments, and serving eviction papers or other notices to vacate. Such notification shall include the name, address, and telephone number of the entity or individual Defendant Mills intends to utilize.
- Defendant Beland
- In addition to the injunctive provisions outlined in I.A.1-6, it is hereby ORDERED that defendant Beland is hereby permanently enjoined from owning, wholly or in part, operating, consulting, managing, staffing, participating in, working in (whether paid or unpaid), or otherwise having any involvement in ownership or management of rental housing properties.
- Defendant Beland acknowledges his liability under the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604, 3614, and 3617. As part of this agreement Defendant Beland has provided to the United States a letter of apology addressed to each of the identified aggrieved persons for his actions and all of the harm that resulted from those actions. The United States will forward the letters to the aggrieved parties.
- MONETARY RELIEF
- In order to settle the monetary claims of the United States on behalf of the aggrieved persons Defendants shall pay the sum of $90,500.00 in damages. Within thirty (30) days of the date of entry of this Decree, Defendants shall provide to the United States checks made payable to individual aggrieved persons, in amounts designated by the United States. In consideration of these payments, each aggrieved person shall execute a release of claims form substantially equivalent to that set forth in Exhibit D appended hereto signifying that the payment she is to receive will constitute full settlement of any claims she may have relating to the subject matter of this lawsuit. The signed release forms shall be provided to Defendants.
- In order to vindicate the public interest, Defendants shall also pay the United States the sum of $15,000.00 to constitute a civil penalty. A check for $14,500.00 shall be made payable to the United States Treasury and forwarded to the United States within fifteen (15) days of the date of this order. The remaining sum of $500.00, to be paid in installments of $50.00 per month for a period of ten (10) months, shall be paid to the United States directly by defendant Albert Beland. Defendant Beland shall send the checks, made payable to the United States Treasury, to the United States. Such monthly payments shall be due to the United States by the 15th day of each month.
- COURT JURISDICTION
The parties agree that the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire shall retain jurisdiction of this action for all purposes relating to the enforcement of this Decree. The time limits for performance imposed by this Decree may be extended by mutual consent of the parties.
Ordered this ___________ day of __________, 2001.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
The undersigned apply for and consent to the entry of this Decree:
For the United States:
RALPH F. BOYD, JR.
Assistant Attorney General
Isabelle M. Thabault
Je Yon Jung
Ohio Bar No. 0067441
Catherine A. Bendor
DC Bar No. 442437
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
For the Defendant Richard Mills:
Andrew Dunn, Esq.
Devine, Millimet & Branch
11 Amherst Street
Manchester, NH 03105
For the Defendant Albert Beland:
Paul Kleinman, Esq.
Bouchard & Kleinman
369 Lafayette Road
Hampton, NH 03842
Document Entered: November 14, 2001. > >