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Judy Greenwald

Housing bias case involving Mideast, Asian tenants settles for $317,000

January 9, 2014 - 1:02pm


The Justice Department has reached a $317,000 settlement with a Euless, Texas, housing complex in a housing discrimination case where a property manager allegedly put tenants of Middle Eastern and Asian subcontinent descent into separate buildings to isolate the aromas from their cooking, among other charges.

Stonebridge at Bear Creek L.L.P. will pay $107,000 in civil penalties and $210,000 into a fund to compensate victims of the alleged discrimination, the Justice Department said Wednesday in a statement.

The department's complaint alleged that the owners, employees and management company at Stonebridge at Bear Creek apartments violated the federal Fair Housing Act by denying housing opportunities to people of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent for several years.

The federal agency said among other unlawful actions, Stonebridge's property manager ordered leasing agents to misrepresent apartment availability based on the accent and perceived race or national origin of potential tenants, and to segregate approved tenants of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent into two buildings in order “to isolate any smells allegedly associated with ethnic cuisine that the manager disliked.”

Under terms of the agreement, which must be approved by a federal judge in Dallas, the defendants must adopt a nondiscrimination policy and undertake “numerous” corrective measures, the Justice Department said.

Additionally, the property manager who ordered the discrimination no longer is employed by the apartment's owners or its management company, the department said.

“The Fair Housing Act ensures that people searching for a home are protected from discrimination, no matter what part of the world their family comes from” Jocelyn Samuels, acting assistant attorney general for the department’s civil rights division, said in the statement. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously protect the rights of all individuals to obtain housing free from discrimination.”

Stonebridge’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

 



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