Georgia Realtors to Pay $60,000 to Settle Fair Housing Lawsuit
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that Harry Norman Realtors (HNR) and Jennifer Sherrouse have agreed to pay monetary damages and civil penalties of $60,000 to settle a Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging that they discriminated against families with children.
The suit charged that HNR and Sherrouse, realtors in the Atlanta area, advertised a "no-child policy" at a unit for sale in the Georgian Manor Condominiums, located at 3648 Peachtree Road in Atlanta, and that they refused to show the unit to potential buyers with children.
"Real estate agents have no excuse for violating our nation’s fair housing laws," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. "We must be particularly vigilant against discrimination by repeat players in the housing field."
"‘No-children policies’ are against the law," stated John Trasviña, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "The Fair Housing Act prohibits them and HUD will enforce the law to protect the rights of families with children."
The consent decree must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The decree requires HNR and Sherrouse to pay $5,000 to Metro Fair Housing Services Inc., $30,000 to a fund for individuals who suffered damages as a result of the defendants’ conduct and $25,000 to the government as a civil penalty. HNR and Sherrouse are prohibited from engaging in discrimination, and their employees and agents must undergo fair housing training.
This lawsuit arose as a result of a complaint filed with HUD by Metro Fair Housing. After investigating the complaint, HUD issued a charge of discrimination, and the case was referred to the Justice Department. The Justice Department earlier reached a settlement with the owner of a unit at Georgian Manor, who was required to pay $7,500 to Metro Fair Housing and $2,500 to the government. The department is continuing to litigate claims against the Georgian Manor Condominium Association for allegedly having maintained policies for 20 years that discouraged families with children from living in the building.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination at Georgian Manor should call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, mailbox number 9998, or e-mail the Justice Department at email@example.com. Individuals who believe they may have been victims of housing discrimination may also contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.