Montgomery, Ala., Jury finds Real Estate Company Guilty Of Discrimination

Leslie Proll , NAACP Legal Defense Educational Fund (202) 682-1300 or
Faith Cooper , Central Alabama Fair Housing Center (334) 263-4663

April 9, 2002

In an unprecedented victory, a jury on April 5 awarded a local African American real estate agent $100,000 in compensatory and punitive damages against Lowder Realty in a race discrimination case. The agent, P.R. Hall, charged the company with steering business to real estate agents on the basis of race. Specifically, she accused Lowder of matching the race of customers with the race of agents, and providing African American agents business only in predominantly African American neighborhoods.

According to Leslie Proll of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., who represented Ms. Hall, the case carries significant precedent. "Real estate companies play a large role in perpetuating housing segregation. This case challenged the presumption held by many companies that black agents should work only with black customers and only in black areas." Second, the verdict "signals to real estate agents that they are protected by the Fair Housing Act from racial practices that limit their own opportunities as well as those of their customers."

P.R. Hall, the plaintiff, said about the verdict: "I've always tried to serve all the communities of Montgomery. I'm grateful the jury recognized that Lowder frustrated those efforts, and that justice prevailed."

The lawsuit was the first fair housing case on behalf of a real estate agent to be tried before a jury in the State of Alabama. The federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits race discrimination in the buying and selling of residential real estate. "This victory highlights the fact that housing discrimination continues to be a serious problem in the Montgomery area. We hope that this case will encourage people who experience this type of discrimination to come forward and realize that they can successfully challenge racists practices," said Faith Cooper, executive director of the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center in Montgomery.