Los Angeles, CA

Apartment owners settle child discrimination suit

September 10, 2004
Two local building owners accused of turning down a prospective tenant because she had a child living with her reached a settlement with the City Attorney's Office, City officials announced Thursday.
     May and Alan Wong, owners of the apartment building at 1048 19th Street in Santa Monica, agreed to pay $500 to the prospective tenant, Donna Thomas, and $500 to the City to cover the costs of the investigation.
     The Wongs -- who were found to strictly limit their one-bedroom units to single occupants -- must also attend a management training course certified by the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles and abide by a two-year moratorium against future discrimination or face double penalties.

Discrimination claims filed against Planned Parenthood

August 20, 2004
Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles is the subject of multiple complaints of racism filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The formal complaints were filed by African-American and Hispanic employees. Specifically, several male employees have officially filed claims, or sworn affidavits, with the EEOC and California Fair Employment & Housing Administration. They allege that Planned Parenthood is controlled by white women who have created a hostile environment for male and minority employees.
     According to one affidavit, a management employee of Planned Parenthood "used the word 'nigger' directed to me. I am African and was shocked by her cultural insensitivity. I immediately placed my concerns in writing and requested disciplinary action with the human resources department at PPLA. Nothing ever happened to my complaint. In fact, I was later put on probation by a female supervisor and then terminated. ... There appeared to be a damaging anti-male bias in the organization."
     A female PPLA contractor responsible for ensuring compliance with EEOC regulations said in another complaint, "[A corporate officer] initiated an investigation on the occasion of one of his employees being called a 'nigger' and he was prevented from finishing this investigation. The perpetrator of this ethnic slur ... was never punished for this action. ... [Planned Parenthood] posters showing males as irresponsible are prominently displayed throughout headquarters, one shows an African-American leaving his child abandoned in the middle of an apartment, another shows all-male US Supreme Court justices beating down on women's rights ...." The affiant also mentioned that Planned Parenthood had posters criticizing President Bush and denouncing the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization that receives government funding and is legally required to avoid political activity.

Activist sues 'Dr. Phil' Talk Show

August 06, 2004
A mental health activist sued the "Dr. Phil" talk show, claiming it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act in its treatment of him.
     Neal David Sutz of Mesa, Ariz., filed suit in federal court in Phoenix last week in connection with his effort to attend a taping of psychologist Phil McGraw's syndicated series in 2003.
     Sutz and other prospective audience members were asked to sign a waiver attesting that they didn't suffer a mental illness and weren't under psychiatric care, according to the suit.

Jury awards $22.5 million in Long Beach building case

August 05, 2004
A federal jury awarded $22.5 million to a woman and her son who sued Long Beach for refusing to let them to build homes for Alzheimer's patients more than a decade ago.
     It was the largest award ever returned against the city of Long Beach.
     After more than four months of deliberations, jurors found Wednesday that the city, two former City Council members and former planning director had "an irrational prejudice against persons with Alzheimer's disease" and they had violated the Fair Housing Act and the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs.
     Shirley McClure tried in 1990 to convert six homes into residential homes for Alzheimer's patients but neighbors complained that it was an illegal commercial venture. Much of the remodeling work also lacked permits. The city halted the work and filed criminal charges against McClure for city code violations. The charges later were dropped. McClure eventually abandoned the project and declared bankruptcy. She sued in 1992.

Jiffy Lube franchisee to settle lawsuit

August 02, 2004
A Jiffy Lube franchise operator has agreed to pay $299,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by three female employees through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
     The EEOC lawsuit claimed supervisors and other employees at a Lynwood, Calif., Jiffy Lube franchise operated by The Oil Shoppe Inc. created a hostile work environment by making explicit sexual remarks and other egregious comments to female employees, two of whom were teenagers.
     One of the female employees also claimed she was fired when she filed a complaint with the company.

Housing discrimination is on the rise in L.A.’s white-hot rental market

July 01, 2004
The hurdles to renting an apartment in Los Angeles are rising with the price of rent. Along with an average monthly check of $1,355 required at large apartment complexes in the county, some landlords, smarting from their limited resource, are asking that you be able-bodied, speak a certain language, or come from a certain country. Housing officials are seeing a peak this year in the number of reports of discrimination by renters and apartment hunters.
     “Reports of discrimination are definitely the highest they’ve ever been” in the last six years or more, says Frances A. Espinoza, executive director of the Housing Rights Center, an organization that contracts with the city of Los Angeles and other municipalities to investigate and fight prejudice in housing.
     Some landlords feel they can be pickier about their prospective tenants while pushing out current dwellers they don’t like, but Espinoza notes that the law prohibits them from discriminating based on gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, language, religion, or disability.

Bush and Black America

June 21, 2004
African-American voters now find themselves in a position to possibly determine this fall's presidential election in a handful of important swing states.
     On the day that the nation observed the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation ruling, President George W. Bush spoke at the opening for a historic site at the two-story brick Monroe Elementary School, one of the four segregated elementary schools that black children in Topeka, Kan., were forced to attend in 1954.
     Standing next to Bush, who had his arm around her at the podium, was Cheryl Brown Henderson, president of the Brown Foundation and one of three daughters of the late Oliver Brown, whose lawsuit with 12 other families culminated in the landmark ruling being commemorated last month.

La Toya London's loss bewilders Idol fans

May 13, 2004
Was La Toya London knocked off "American Idol" by a Hawaiian punch or something more sinister? Although "American Idol" contestant Jasmine Trias of Oahu, Hawaii, flubbed her performance this week, it was favorite London whom viewers sent packing.
     An anguished "Why?" rose from the ranks of her fans and bewildered "American Idol" judges, as it did when another standout contestant, Jennifer Hudson, was booted off last month.
     If Wednesday's results are an indication of the unpredictability of U.S. voters, Ralph Nader might consider measuring the Oval Office for new curtains.

Federal judge approves $22K settlement in familial status case

April 12, 2004
To settle claims of housing discrimination, the owners and property managers of a Pasadena, California apartment complex paid $22,000 to a family that was forced to move from the complex based on the birth of their child.
     The plaintiffs, a married couple, began their tenancy in the defendants’ apartment complex in October 1994. After the birth of their only child in 2000, the defendants grew hostile toward the plaintiffs and began harassing and pressuring them to move out, including issuing a rent increase of $100. Later, the defendants terminated the plaintiffs’ tenancy. After the plaintiffs asked defendants to extend their tenancy, defendants responded that the baby would need more room and that the baby was an extra liability. Alienated by defendant’s conduct, the plaintiffs relocated.
     The HRC conducted phone tests to investigate the allegation of housing discrimination. Responding to a web advertisement in which defendants preferred a “quite person,” HRC’s first tester spoke with one of the defendants and informed defendant that she had a five year old child. The defendant responded by telling the tester that the apartments were “all full.” Soon after, HRC’s second tester, posing as a childless prospective tenant, called defendants about the apartment and was offered a showing of the apartment along with an application to rent.
     The Housing Rights Center found that the rental increase policy, the termination of the plaintiff’s tenancy, and its testing all evidenced housing discrimination against families with children. Accordingly, plaintiffs Housing Rights Center and family filed their lawsuit in the Central District of California on November 5, 2002. “The Housing Rights Center felt it was important to bring this claim because the defendants had infringed on the basic civil rights of families to be free from discrimination and to quietly enjoy living as a family,” said Frances Espinoza, HRC’s Executive Director.

Real Estate Magnate Sued By Tenant for Section 8 Discrimination

April 07, 2004
Clippers owner and real estate magnate Donald T. Sterling was sued by a 70-year-old widow who claims she is being forced from her Santa Monica apartment because Sterling will not accept housing vouchers.
     The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed Tuesday on behalf of Elisheba Sabi, a tenant of a Sterling Corp. building at 930 5th Street, near the Santa Monica Promenade.
     A representative of the Sterling Corp. did not immediately return a call for comment on the allegations.

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