KANSAS CITY, KS- The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has charged a Rolla, Missouri, apartment complex, management company, and manager with housing discrimination based on race, race association, sex, and retaliation.
HUD alleges that manager Roger Harris discriminated on the basis of race by routinely making disparaging and derogatory comments about African Americans to tenants. He stated that he did not want African Americans at the property, and refused to rent to an African American woman. Harris allegedly sexually harassed a female tenant and intimidated, threatened and interfered with female tenants’ enjoyment of their dwellings by threatening their housing, telling them they could not have male guests, and making offensive and vulgar comments, gestures and innuendos related to sex. In addition, HUD alleges that Harris stated he preferred to rent to women and rejected a single father’s attempt to apply for housing at Forum Manor Apartments because of his sex. Harris also allegedly retaliated against tenants for filing a fair housing complaint and participating in a fair housing investigation.
"The discrimination that is being alleged is repeated and unconscionable," said John Trasvinña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "HUD will vigorously protect the rights of all people to live in their homes, free from discrimination."
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, sex, color, national origin, disability, religion and familial status. Illegal acts include harassing tenants based on race, color and/or sex and discriminating against tenants because they associate with persons of another race. It is also unlawful to intimidate any person because the person has filed a fair housing complaint or participated in a fair housing investigation.
The HUD charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in a federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to each complainant for actual loss as a result of the discrimination, as well as damages for emotional distress, humiliation, and loss of civil rights. The judge may also order injunctive and other equitable relief to deter further discrimination, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition to damages payable to the complainant, the judge may impose a civil penalty in order to vindicate the public interest. In the event of an election, a federal district court judge may also award punitive damages to a prevailing complainant.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate more than 10,000 housing complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice), (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing. Stay on top of the most up-to-date news regarding the Fair Housing Act by signing up for the FHEO RSS Feed.