Greenbrier Village Settles Law Suit Alleging Unlawful Discrimination Against Families With Children In Violation Of Fair Housing Act
United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced a settlement agreement between the United States, the Greenbrier Village Homeowner’s Association, Inc. (Greenbrier), and Gassen Company, Inc. (Gassen) and an individual Gassen employee to resolve a lawsuit filed on November 25, 2013. The lawsuit alleged that Greenbrier and Gassen unlawfully discriminated against residents with children by issuing and enforcing rules regarding the use of common areas at the Condominiums of Greenbrier Village. The settlement includes a commitment from Greenbrier to establish a new non-discrimination policy in accordance with the Fair Housing Act, pay a $10,000 penalty to the United States and pay $100,000 to six families that suffered as a result of the discrimination.
“Housing discrimination has no place in Minnesota,” said United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger. “This case reaffirms the long-held principle of our civil rights laws that families come in all shapes and sizes. Arbitrary rules that restrict the rights of children to enjoy the places where they live are not acceptable.”
“The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from discriminating against families with children. This means more than just allowing those families to live at the property. It means giving these families fair access to the common areas and amenities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.
“Families with children have the right to live in condos that don’t meet federal requirements to qualify as housing for older persons,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD is sending a clear message to homeowners associations and management companies that they must comply with the Fair Housing Act.”
According to the settlement agreement and documents filed in court, Greenbrier and Gassen allegedly engaged in a pattern of discrimination by creating and enforcing rules in a manner that prevented children from equal enjoyment of common areas and making statements that indicated a preference against families with children. The United States alleged that the defendants required children to be supervised at all times when in a common area, prohibited or unreasonably restricted children from using the common areas and selectively enforced the common area rules by issuing warnings and violation notices to residents with children, but not to adult residents engaging in the same activities.
According to the settlement agreement, at least six families suffered as a result of Greenbrier and Gassen’s alleged discrimination. Greenbrier agreed to a financial settlement with each of the families, totaling $100,000. Greenbrier will also adopt and implement a new anti-discrimination policy, its board members and staff will undergo training on the Fair Housing Act, with a specific emphasis on discrimination on the basis of familial status, and Greenbrier will pay a civil penalty to the United States.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bahram Samie and Ana Voss and attorneys from the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division handled this matter for the United States.
U.S. Attorney Luger thanked the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for assisting in the investigation.