(Palm Beach County Fla., August 28, 2003) - On this historic day commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Dr. Kings "I Have A Dream Speech" and the March on Washington for the end of bigotry and discrimination, the Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches (FHC) has settled a crucial federal lawsuit in Palm Beach County. The suit, brought against Country Club Village Apartments, CCVA partnership and Ed Morales, the property manager, has been settled for $113,500.
The suit alleges that Country Club Villages Apartments, located in the City of Boca Raton, discriminated on the basis of race or color. In addition, the suit alleged that Ed Morales engaged in retaliation as a result of an administrative complaint filed with a governmental agency against him, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. The suit also alleged that Morales discriminates against families with children. The defendants denied all allegations.
An FHC undercover testing investigation confirmed discrimination at the apartment complex on both the basis of race and familial status and Ed Morales stated in a letter on company letterhead to the FHC, in response to the allegations, "And as to black families you just cant count on American blacks, because if your black your black. No matter what kind of background youre from." Also, a former employee of Country Club Village, who worked under Morales, provided the FHC with a written statement in which he alleged that Morales told him "When I came to the complex I cleaned house of all of the niggers. I was not going to live in a jungle with those people. I threw all of them out. Tell all of them that come around that there are no units to rent. I hate niggers and do not want them in here." The former employee gave the statement while still employed there.
Vince Larkins, FHC President/CEO stated, "this was one of the most profound and disturbing cases we have ever had at the FHC. From these provocative and inflammatory statements one can clearly surmise that still, after forty years, African-American homeseekers must pay a heavy price for being an African-American in the housing market. The FHC will continue to root out and bring to justice all those who continue, forty years later, to victimize residents just for being African-American, and will intensify our offensive to stop housing discrimination against our kids."
In addition to paying $113,500 under the Consent Order, the defendants further agreed to:
- PERMANENT INJUNCTION: Barring defendants from violating the Fair Housing Act.
- FAIR HOUSING EDUCATION: Mandatory fair housing training for Ed Morales.
- ADVERTISING: Defendants will utilize in all advertising the Fair Housing Logo.
This lawsuit is one of many major federal housing discriminating lawsuits filed in Palm Beach County Florida to stop housing discrimination, which involves the FHC. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a federal lawsuit against the owner and manager of an apartment complex in the City of Jupiter late last year which stemmed from the Department's Fair Housing Testing Program, in coordination with the FHC. The lawsuit alleges that managers at Mallards Cove told perspective Black homeseekers that no units were available, while telling Whites that units were available.
The Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches is the only local full service and broad-based, non-profit fair housing organization in Palm Beach County Florida history, and is a member of the National Fair Housing Alliance. The plaintiffs were represented by Attorney Michael F. Amezaga Esq., who specializes in civil rights litigation.