Montgomery, AL

Judge extends restraining order on immigration law

December 08, 2011
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson has extended a restraining order stopping the enforcement of a portion of the state's immigration law until Dec. 12 to allow him time to consider arguments and complex issues in the case.
     The Central Alabama Fair Housing Center filed the federal lawsuit Nov. 18 against the state's revenue commissioner, Julie Magee, and the probate judge in Elmore County to try to stop a portion of the law that the plaintiffs believe violates the U.S. Constitution and the Fair Housing Act.
     The pertinent section of the law prohibits anyone in the country illegally from entering into a business transaction with the state or a political subdivision of the state, which the plaintiffs contend illegally requires those purchasing decals needed to register manufactured homes to produce documentation verifying their citizenship status.

Injunction mulled over section of Ala. immigration law

December 01, 2011
A federal judge is hearing a request on Thursday by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to enforce a temporary restraining order on part of Alabama's immigration law.
     Attorneys for the SPLC say that certain county offices in Alabama have turned people away, preventing them from renewing their mobile homes because they do not have proof of citizenship. They say some of the illegal immigrants have children and cannot be driven from their homes.
     Since the temporary restraining order was granted, the SPLC says there have been at least nine instances in which various local probate offices have demanded "proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status of individuals seeking to obtain a decal for their manufactured homes, in direct contravention of this Court's TRO," according to the motion.
     The SPLC is representing Central Alabama Fair Housing Center, Fair Housing Center of Northern Alabama, Center for Fair Housing Inc., and John Doe No. 1 and John Doe No. 2.

Suit claims Alabama immigration law puts homes at risk

November 19, 2011
A new federal lawsuit was filed Friday challenging a section of Alabama's immigration law that civil rights groups say makes it impossible for those who can't prove U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status to legally keep their manufactured homes.
     The lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court in Montgomery by two immigrants in Elmore County named in the lawsuit only as "John Doe No. 1" and "John Doe No. 2." They are challenging a section of the law that prohibits most contracts where one party is an illegal immigrant.
     Attorneys for the plaintiffs say that provision is being used by state revenue officials to keep illegal immigrants from paying an annual registration fee and obtaining a decal that by law must be displayed on manufactured homes. State law requires the registration to be renewed by Nov. 30.

Court orders property manager and landlord to pay $50K for sexual harassment

June 02, 2009
A federal court in Alabama ordered that a real estate agent and the owner of rental units the agent managed in Montgomery, Alabama, must pay damages to a low-income renter for sexual harassment. The agent had repeatedly tried to coerce the renter into having sex with him and then raised her rent and attempted to evict her when she refused. The ruling from the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Alabama came late yesterday.
     "Too often landlords and rental agents try to exploit low-income women who have few affordable rental options by demanding sex as a condition of housing," said Olivia Turner, the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, which is representing the renter. "The court's order sends a loud and clear message that this form of exploitation is never acceptable." The ACLU, the ACLU of Alabama, the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center, and Legal Services Alabama, Inc. filed a lawsuit against Elite Real Estate Consulting Group agent Jamarlo GumBayTay and landlord Matthew Bahr, on behalf of the renter, Yolanda Boswell, in 2007 charging that GumBayTay's sexual harassment and coercive tactics violated the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, familial status and disability.
     The court found both Bahr and GumBayTay at fault for GumBayTay's reprehensible behavior and awarded Boswell over $50,000 in damages. The court noted that Gumbaytay's sexual harassment was well documented by recorded phone conversations he had with Boswell in which he indicated that the amount of rent Boswell paid depended on whether she would have sex with him.

DOJ brings sexual harassment case against manager in Alabama

July 17, 2008
Responding to an investigation conducted by three Montgomery-based nonprofits, the United States Department of Justice filed a Fair Housing Act lawsuit on Thursday against a property manager in Montgomery for sexual harassment of female tenants, many of whom are in the Section 8 rental voucher program. The lawsuit alleges that Jamarlo GumBayTay engaged in a pattern or practice of making sexual advances towards female tenants, subjecting them to unwanted touching, granting or denying rental services based on response to his sexual advances, and taking adverse action against those who did not comply with his requests for sex. The lawsuit also names as defendants the property owners who hired Mr. GumBayTay to manage their properties.
     This case comes on the heels of an earlier federal lawsuit filed against GumBayTay in February 2007 for sexual harassment against a non-Section 8 tenant, Yolanda Boswell. Ms. Boswell’s case, which is set for trial in October, was brought by the ACLU of Alabama, The Central Alabama Fair Housing Center (CAFHC), and Legal Services Alabama (LSA). In that case, which is factually similar to the allegations in the Justice Department’s suit, U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins has already issued a preliminary injunction against GumBayTay. Not long after the Boswell case was filed, the three organizations initiated an investigation in order to discover if any other tenants had been sexually harassed by GumBayTay, and that investigation produced 12 new complaints. After conducting exhaustive interviews and research, the ACLU, CAFHC, and LSA referred the new complaints to the Department of Justice, which conducted its own investigation and elected to file a “pattern or practice” suit.

OPINION: An ongoing problem

November 16, 2007
The lead article in a recent Sunday edition of the Advertiser headlined "National housing discrimination charges up, city charges down" left the impression that housing discrimination is no longer a significant problem in Montgomery.
     If this were correct, we at the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center would be overjoyed. Unfortunately, this impression is far from accurate.
     The primary flaw of the article is its sole focus on the number of administrative complaints filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
     Filing an administrative complaint with HUD is one option people may elect to pursue if they encounter housing discrimination. Nonetheless, HUD administrative complaint numbers are an insufficient and misleading measure of the extent of housing discrimination in Montgomery.

Job discrimination bias cases in decline in Alabama

August 30, 2006
The number of Alabama residents willing to go to court over job discrimination has fallen sharply in the past decade, a trend legal experts link to a more conservative judicial system.
     In 1996, there were 1,085 federal lawsuits filed in Alabama alleging an employer discriminated against a worker because of his or her national origin, race, sex, religion or age.

Attempts to save King-era hotel hold promise

April 19, 2004
The Ben Moore Hotel building sits in the heart of civil rights history in Montgomery — along with other important landmarks such as Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the King parsonage, First Baptist Church and the city of St. Jude.
     Located at High and Jackson streets, the four-story Ben Moore offered lodging, a safe place for meetings and a vibrant social life free from the bigotry and hostilities of the Southern white racism of the 1950s and '60s. Even today in the basement is an evocative barbershop full of civil rights-era news pictures and portraits, including one of its most famous customers, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., when he lived in the now-restored parsonage just yards up Jackson Street.
     With the exception of the barbershop, the rest of the hotel is only a memory of its former self. The first floor Majestic Cafe no longer serves meals. The second and third floor rooms that once provided rest for activists, luminaries and travelers are instead populated with bird droppings and peeling paint.

Court rules against commandments monument

July 01, 2003
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is not above "the rule of law" and must remove a Ten Commandments monument the size of a washing machine from the lobby of the state judicial building.
     A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta unanimously affirmed an order from U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson that the monument violates the Constitution's prohibition on government promotion of religion. Thompson had ordered the monument removed from the building, but delayed the order while Moore appealed.
     A spokesman for Moore said the chief justice would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was unclear whether the monument would stay in place during further appeals.

Ala. troopers get racial profiling policy

May 19, 2003
The new head of Alabama's law enforcement agency has formally banned racial profiling by state troopers and added a new procedure for reviewing motorists' complaints.
     The policy, unveiled last week, prohibits troopers from stopping motorists based solely on ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, age or cultural group, and mandates annual training.
     "This policy clearly states that such actions will not be tolerated," Public Safety Director Mike Coppage said.

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