Cal. agency says state law covers roommates

September 06, 1998
With misgivings about invading apartment dwellers' privacy, a California state civil rights agency awarded $2,744.35 in damages to a black Oakland woman rejected as a roommate by two white women because of her race.
     The Fair Employment and Housing Commission said people who rent a house or apartment and seek a roommate are covered by California's law banning racial discrimination in housing.
     While taking part in the 4-0 decision, two commission members said the Legislature should change the law.
     The law ``intrudes too far into individuals' choice of living arrangements, and may also raise constitutional issues of privacy and association,'' wrote commissioners Theron Johnson and Ann-Marie Villicana.

EEOC finds discrimination at Freddie Mac

September 03, 1998
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has concluded there is widespread discrimination against black employees by Freddie Mac, a federally chartered mortgage underwriting company.
     Acting on a complaint filed by Tony Morgan, Freddie Mac's former director of corporate relations, the EEOC issued a finding recently that said the publicly held company has created a ``hostile work environment'' and urged swift corrective action to head off another lawsuit.
     The EEOC filed suit against Freddie Mac last year, but a federal judge dismissed the suit after finding that the company had taken sufficient remedial action.
     But EEOC lawyers said other employees have come forward since then with evidence of a pattern of discrimination against black employees. 

Judge OKs Toledo Nationwide settlement

September 03, 1998
A judge has approved a $5.3 million settlement of a lawsuit that accused Nationwide Insurance Co. of discriminating against homeowners in minority neighborhoods.
     The 1993 lawsuit filed by the Toledo Fair Housing Center and
homeowners alleged that Nationwide didn't return phone calls to discourage homeowners in black neighborhoods from buying insurance.
     Mortgage lenders require property and hazard insurance on mortgaged property before approving loans. Nationwide denies the discrimination charge, but said it agreed to a settlement to avoid a legal battle. 

Oregon mobile park pays $27,000 in HUD case

September 01, 1998
The owner of Scofield Mobile Home Park, near Salem, Ore., and the park's manager agreed to pay $27,000 to settle discrimination charges filed by HUD. They were accused of refusing to sell or rent to a couple that had a four-year-old child in April of 1997.
      The park owner told the Salem Statesman-Journal the site was to be a seniors park, but HUD investigators found the park didn't qualify for Fair Housing Act exemptions for older persons. And there wasn't any advertising denoting the park as for residents 55 or older. HUD found the park didn't meet requirements that 80 percent of the homes must have at least one 55-year-old resident.

Florida accommodation issue headed to court

August 29, 1998
The long-running battle between a Beacon Woods East couple and their homeowners association will be decided in U.S. District Court.
     The case, filed Friday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on behalf of Steve and Michelle Sidney, accuses the homeowners association of discrimination against the disabled in enforcement of its deed restrictions.
     At issue is the development's rule that residents cannot park recreational vehicles in private driveways. The homeowners association has said the Sidneys' RV blocks the sidewalk and inconveniences pedestrians. The association wants the Sidneys to park their RV at a lot for large vehicles about a mile from their home.

Philly housing authority target of disability suit

August 28, 1998
Advocates for the disabled on August 27 sued the Philadelphia Housing Authority in federal court, alleging there has been far too little done to make PHA units accessible so that those who cannot walk, see or hear can rent them.
     The suit was filed by Adapt of Philadelphia, an activist group. "Many Philadelphia residents with disabilities continue to live in segregated settings, such as nursing facilities, solely because of the lack of affordable, accessible, and integrated housing," the suit asserts.
     A PHA spokesman couldn't be reached for comment. Adapt's attorney, Stephen F. Gold, contends that the PHA is violating the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. 

DOJ settles Chicago condo construction case

August 27, 1998
A Northern Illinois development company will correct design problems in condominiums that are inaccessible to persons with disabilities, under a settlement reached with the Justice Department.
      The agreement, filed together with a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago, resolves allegations that Ranch Development, Inc., of Orland Park, Illinois, violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by failing to include particular features in condominiums which would make the units accessible to persons with disabilities. Under the FHA, multi-family housing complexes with four or more units must contain, among other things, accessible routes, doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, reachable thermostats, and bathroom walls equipped with reinforcements so that people with disabilities could install grab bars.

Advocates for disabled hit group-home policy

August 26, 1998
Questioning the legality of an interim policy that allows the state to reject group homes in towns that have their so-called fair share, a coalition of advocates for the disabled has demanded that the policy be rescinded.
     In a letter to the state attorney general, the New Jersey Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities charged that the "saturation" policy, which was implemented by former Commissioner William Waldman, "is a discriminatory housing practice violating the federal Fair Housing Act." 

Amtrak sued for race discrimination

August 21, 1998
A group of Amtrak managers filed suit yesterday against the national passenger railroad, alleging that top management there steers African American managers and professionals into jobs with limited opportunity for advancement.
     The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asks for an immediate end to what it says is racial discrimination at the railroad.  The plaintiffs also are seeking more than $100 million in back pay and damages on behalf of approximately 3,500 black employees.
     Paul C. Sprenger, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said racial discrimination and a hostile work environment have existed at Amtrak for more than a decade. Sprenger said the suit was filed on behalf of 700 current managerial employees, 300 former employees and about 2,500 African Americans who were turned down for jobs.   

FCC investigating advertiser discrimination

August 20, 1998
Federal officials have begun an investigation into whether advertisers have systematically discriminated against radio and TV stations that are owned by minorities or attract large African American and Hispanic audiences.
     For years, minority broadcasters have complained that advertisers consistently pass over their stations or pay far less for commercial air time than on stations reaching primarily white audiences. Although minority broadcasters have offered anecdotal evidence of discrimination, no government agency has previously attempted to study whether a pattern exists.

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