Posts Tagged ‘fair housing act’

So today’s posting does not directly address employment issues but it does address issues under Florida Statutes, the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The issue today relates to disabled persons use of service dogs.

It has come to my attention that in many states, condo associations are giving hard times to disabled persons who have service dogs, especially where the association has no pet rules. Florida Statutes 413.08.  Under the Florida Statutes, at subsection (2) An individual with a disability is entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges in all public accommodations.  Moreover, under subsection (3) An individual with a disability has the right to be accompanied by a service animal in all areas of a public accommodation that the public or customers are normally permitted to occupy.  It is interesting to note also that the statute mandates that an association may not charge a surcharge or pet deposit for a service dog even if normally charged for a pet.
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In the past on this blog, I have not only addressed sexual harassment in the workplace, but have also discussed housing discrimination. Well this post, addresses a little of both issues.

A federal jury in Detroit last week returned a $115,000 verdict against an Ypsilanti, Mich., man for sexually harassing female tenants in his capacity as a property manager, the Justice Department announced last week. The jury also found the property owner and his company liable for the illegal harassment.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, alleged that Glenn Johnson subjected female tenants to discrimination on the basis of sex, including severe, pervasive and unwelcome sexual harassment, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. The complaint also alleged that Ronnie Peterson and First Pitch Properties LLC, the owners of the properties, are liable for Johnson’s discriminatory conduct.

Over the course of a six day trial, the United States presented evidence that Glenn Johnson subjected six women to severe and pervasive sexual harassment, ranging from unwelcome sexual comments and sexual advances, to requiring sexual favors in exchange for their tenancy. One woman testified that Johnson refused to give her keys to her apartment until she agreed to have sex with him. Another woman testified that she had sex with Johnson at least 20 times because he threatened that the owner would evict her if she did not.

The United States also presented evidence that Washtenaw County Commissioner Ronnie Peterson, who owned the properties, knew that Johnson was sexually harassing tenants but did nothing to stop it. One woman testified that she complained in person to Peterson about Johnson’s conduct yet Johnson continued to handle properties for Peterson for nearly two more years.

“Today’s verdict sends a message to landlords and rental agents that they cannot abuse their positions and sexually harass tenants,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade. “Women should be safe from sexual harassment in their own homes.”

If you believe you have been the victim of sexual harassment or housing discrimination, speak to an attorney who is experienced with these areas of law.

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While this is a little off topic for this blog, I thought I would talk a little today about housing discrimination and what you can do if you are a victim of it.

Housing discrimination based on your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, or disability is illegal by federal law. If you have been trying to buy or rent a home or apartment and you believe your rights have been violated, you can file a fair housing complaint.

If you are trying to rent housing, you cannot be discriminated against in the following ways:
Refuse to rent or sell housing
Refuse to negotiate for housing
Make housing unavailable
Deny a dwelling
Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
Provide different housing services or facilities
Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.

If you are trying to buy a housing, you cannot be discriminated against in the following ways:
Refuse to make a mortgage loan
Refuse to provide information regarding loans
Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees
Discriminate in appraising property
Refuse to purchase a loan or
Set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan

Individuals who believe that they have been victims of an illegal housing practice may file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] or file their own lawsuit in federal or state court. You must file the complaint with HUD within one year of the incident you believe to be housing discrimination. If you choose to file your own lawsuit in federal or state court, the Act requires that you do so within two years of the incident.

There are also many state’s that have their own housing discrimination laws so you may want to check with a discrimination lawyer to determine whether it is most beneficial to make a claim under a state or federal law.

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