Justice Department Files Fair Housing Lawsuit in Missouri Against Owner and Managers of Federally-Subsidized Property for Race and Sex Discrimination

The Justice Department announced it has filed a lawsuit today in federal court for the Eastern District of Missouri alleging a pattern or practice of violations of the Fair Housing Act by the owner and managers of Forum Manor Apartments, a federally-subsidized apartment complex, for refusing to rent to African-Americans and males, refusing to allow tenants to have African-American visitors, sexually harassing female tenants and retaliating against tenants who complained about such discrimination.

The lawsuit alleges that Roger Harris, the manager of Forum Manor Apartments, refused to rent to African-Americans. According to the court documents, Harris told a prospective tenant, “I don’t rent to people who look like you,” or words to that effect. The suit further alleges that Harris repeatedly sexually harassed and intimidated female tenants and refused to rent to males. The suit also names as defendants Hediger Enterprises Inc., Forum Manor Associates L.P., and Forum Manor LLC, which jointly own and manage Forum Manor.

“No one should be denied an apartment because of their race or sex, nor should a woman have to fear harassment by the landlord who holds a key to her home,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will vigorously enforce the nation’s civil rights laws to combat all types of discrimination.”

This lawsuit arose as a result of complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by four tenants. After an investigation of the complaint, HUD issued a charge of discrimination and, after complainants elected to have the case heard in federal court, referred the case to Justice Department. The suit alleges that the defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination and seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination by the defendants, monetary damages for those harmed by the defendants’ actions and a civil penalty.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov, or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.

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