Justice Department Secures Agreement in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against California Property Manager and Owners
The Department of Justice announced today that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has approved a consent decree resolving the department’s Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging race discrimination in housing by the owners and manager of two rental properties in Cedartown, Georgia. The defendants are Crimson Management LLC; Benefield Housing Partnership (dba Cedartown Commons); and Cedartown Housing Associates (dba Cedarwood Village).
The lawsuit, filed in May 2020, alleged that the defendants steered Black housing applicants who are elderly or have a disability away from Cedarwood Village, a predominantly white housing complex, to Cedartown Commons, a housing complex that is inferior in appearance, location and amenities to Cedarwood Village. Most residents of Cedartown Commons are Black. The lawsuit further alleged that the defendants subjected Black residents who are elderly or have a disability to less favorable rental terms, conditions and privileges as compared to similarly situated white tenants. The defendants’ policies allegedly perpetuated segregation at the two properties.
“It is unacceptable that race discrimination in housing persists in our nation more than a half-century after President Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing our civil rights laws by holding housing providers responsible when they perpetuate racial segregation or otherwise engage in prohibited discrimination.”
“Access to housing opportunities remains unequal for Black housing applicants all too often,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan for the Northern District of Georgia. “My office will continue to devote resources to eradicate this injustice and we will continue to hold housing providers accountable for racial discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act.”
This case was jointly litigated by attorneys in the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.
Under the court-approved decree, the defendants are required to pay $83,000 in damages to three former tenants who were allegedly harmed as a result of the defendants’ racial steering; pay a civil penalty to the United States; implement nondiscriminatory policies and procedures; complete fair-housing training; and submit periodic reports to the Justice Department.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the Fair Housing Act, which 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 http://www.justice.gov/crt.
Individuals may report sexual harassment or other forms of housing discrimination by calling the Justice Department’s Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mailing the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or submitting a report online at https://civilrights.justice.gov/. Individuals may also contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777 or by file a complaint online at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaint?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.