Mississippi man wins $8,750 and apology letters from respondents in racial discrimination case

Gary K. Yates, an African American man formerly of Jackson, Mississippi, has agreed to accept $8,750 and written letters of apology from Margaret K. Martin and Patrick R. Kavanaugh to settle his complaint of race, color, and sex discrimination against them. The April 2003 consent order also requires Martin to leave the rental real estate business permanently.

In January 2000, Yates sought to rent an apartment owned by Martin, Kavanaugh, and Betsy Breazeale on Greymont Avenue in Jackson. Yates spoke to Martin about the apartment via telephone. Yates made an appointment to meet Martin to view the apartment.

Co-owner falsely denied apartment was available;eventually rented unit to white applicant

When Yates arrived, Martin falsely told him that the apartment had already been rented. The apartment remained vacant for more than a month, before it was rented to a white applicant.

Yates eventually learned that the apartment he had requested had not been rented and filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the following May. HUD’s investigation revealed that Yates had been lied to about the availability of the apartment. Investigators for HUD’s Region IV Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) felt that there was reasonable cause to believe that Yates had been discriminated against because of his race, color, and sex. The Region IV office forwarded the investigation results to the office the HUD’s Secretary.

After HUD issued a Charge of Discrimination in September 2002, the respondents approached HUD counsel in an attempt to settle. Administrative Law Judge Constance O’Bryant granted a joint motion by the parties to have a settlement judge appointed to help reach a settlement. Chief Administrative Law Judge Arthur A. Liberty appointed Judge Robert Andretta to be the settlement judge in the case.

In addition to the monetary payment and letters of apology, Kavanaugh has agreed to undergo training in the Fair Housing Act’s requirements. Judge O’Bryant approved training to be conducted by Terry Kitay of Atlanta law firm Coughlin and Kitay and Vicky Ray of the HUD FHEO office in Jackson. The respondents can also request to be trained by someone else, subject to approval by HUD’s Region IV FHEO hub director. Additionally, Kavanaugh and Breazeale will provide copies of the Consent Decree and the text of the Fair Housing Act to all of their employees and agents.

The consent decree also requires the respondent to submit all of their records regarding their rental real estate holdings on May 31, 2003 and again on November 20, 2003. Records to be submitted will include applications, lists of properties, lists of vacancies, and copies of rental rules.

Donnie R. Murray, Steven J. Edelstein, and Sherri R. Smith represented HUD on behalf of Yates. David A. Rueff, Jr. of Jackson represented the respondents. Yates no longer resides in Mississippi. He now lives in Texas.

HUD v. Martin
Case No. HUD ALJ 04-00-0832-8
The Honorable Constance T. O’Bryant, Admin. Law Judge
HUD complaint filed: May 3, 2000
Discrimination Charge Issued: September 25, 2002
Consent Order Approved: April 15, 2003