Justice Department Settles Housing Discrimination Lawsuit Against Pennsylvania Landlord
The Justice Department announced today that a Johnstown, Pennsylvania, landlord has agreed to pay $30,000 to resolve allegations that he discriminated against families with children in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
The department’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and alleged that Robert Kormanik, the rental manager for Kinamrok Apartments, and Kinamrok Inc., the corporate entity that owns the complex, discriminated against families with children by prohibiting them from renting one- and two-bedroom units. The allegations were based on evidence generated by the department’s Fair Housing Testing Unit, in which individuals pose as prospective renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices. The department’s testing revealed that Kormanik told testers children were not allowed in one-bedroom units. He also refused to inform testers about available two-bedroom units until the testers assured him that no children would reside there.
“Although it may appear in discrete forms, housing discrimination against families with children remains a persistent problem,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the department’s Civil Rights Division. “Around the country, the Justice Department will continue to aggressively enforce the Fair Housing Act, as we did here in Johnstown, to ensure that families with children can obtain housing without facing unlawful, discriminatory barriers.”
“We are dedicated to ensuring that families with children are not discriminated against when seeking housing here in Western Pennsylvania,” said U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton of the Western District of Pennsylvania. “Today’s settlement demonstrates our commitment to making sure that owners of rental properties understand their obligations under the Fair Housing Act, and follow the law.”
Under the terms of the consent order, which still must be approved by the court, Kormanik and Kinamrok will establish a settlement fund of $20,000 to compensate victims of their alleged discriminatory practices. The defendants will also pay a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States. The agreement prohibits the defendants from engaging in further acts of discrimination and requires them to implement a non-discrimination policy and submit reports to the United States for three years. Kormanik and any other employee involved in the management of, or the rental of units at, Kinamrok Apartments must also receive training on the Fair Housing Act.
Individuals who believe they may have been discriminated against at Kinamrok Apartments because they sought to reside there with children should contact the department toll-free at 1-800-896-7743, mailbox 995, or e-mail Fairhousing@usdoj.gov. Kinamrok Apartments are located at 400 Luray Avenue, 1001 Tener Street, 1010 Tener Street and 105 Kinamrok Avenue in Johnstown.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.