Philadelphia, PA

Philly black police claim harassment

February 26, 2003
Three black police officers who said they were assigned to desk jobs for growing beards have filed a lawsuit, claiming the dispute was symptomatic of pervasive racism in their station house.
     The men said they are among 10 black officers in the same division who filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, the federal agency that investigates discrimination claims.
     The federal lawsuit said white commanders at the officer's station created an atmosphere of "pervasive and relentless discrimination, harassment and retaliation" by refusing to authorize overtime pay for black detectives and penalizing blacks more severely for minor workplace infractions.

Philadelphia housing authority to limit Section 8

February 14, 2003
The Philadelphia Housing Authority plans to limit the life of Section 8 assistance to seven years, ending the notion that the controversial low-income housing vouchers last forever.
     Responding to an avalanche of criticism about the federally subsidized housing program that even engulfed a local congressional race, Housing Authority officials say they want to move people from dependency to home ownership.
     Philadelphia follows the Delaware State Housing Authority, which issued the first such deadline in the nation, giving residents five years to use the vouchers.

HUD revises regulations to level playing field

December 12, 2002
President Bush today proposed an end to federal regulations that unnecessarily limit religious organizations' access to grant programs administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Bush told 1,500 faith-based leaders in Philadelphia that his proposal is designed to place them on an equal footing with other community-based organizations that serve low-income Americans and revitalize distressed neighborhoods.
     "An organization's faith should not be the yardstick we use to measure its ability to serve families and communities," said HUD Secretary Mel Martinez. "President Bush is making it abundantly clear he intends to end this form of regulatory discrimination so we can focus on which organizations can most effectively provide housing and services to those who need them most."
     The proposed rule announced today would remove unwarranted barriers to the equal participation of faith-based organizations in HUD's programs. The objective is to ensure that HUD programs do not discriminate and are open to all qualified applicants, regardless of their religious affiliation. The proposed rule would amend the regulations for the following HUD programs: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program; HOME Investment Partnerships program; Hope for Homeownership of Single-Family Homes; Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA); Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) program; Shelter Plus Care; Supportive Housing; and, Youthbuild. 

HUD settles race case for $10,000 in Pennsylvania

November 01, 2002
Westrum Partners LTD and owner Lee Balten of Barry Court Apartments in Ambler, Pa., have agreed to settle a fair housing discrimination case filed by the Fair Housing Council of Montgomery County with the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development for $10,000.00.
      The Council filed a complaint with HUD in February 2002 alleging that African American callers to Barry Court were given different information than white callers when inquiring about renting a unit at Barry Court. The complaint was based upon evidence gathered over 3 years by the Council. In one piece of evidence, Lee Balten told an African American caller that there were no vacancies at Barry Court but encouraged a white caller to apply for an available unit on the very same day.
      “Racial discrimination has become subtle,” according to Elizabeth Albert, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council of Montgomery County. “ In this case African Americans were denied the opportunity to rent apartments because they sounded African American over the phone. When we analyzed the information we had collected there was no other way to explain the different treatment between whites and blacks except discrimination based upon the sound of someone’s voice.”

Doc sues, cites discrimination in airline interrogation

September 20, 2002
An Indian doctor who was on a flight last month when federal air marshals raised guns while detaining an unruly passenger said he was also held for hours after the plane landed and blamed racial profiling.
     Bob Rajcoomar, a naturalized citizen and former U.S. Army major from Lake Worth, Fla., filed notice Wednesday in U.S. District Court that he may sue the U.S. government for illegal detention and emotional distress, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday.
     Rajcoomar said he was held in a filthy cell for about three hours and was given no reasons for his detention. He was released without charge. 

White anchor alleges discrimination

August 29, 2002
A former television news anchor has filed a race discrimination claim against the station he says fired him because he is white.
     Richard J. Noonan, 40, alleges that station managers discussed concerns that the newscast looked "lily white" before he was dismissed in February.
     Noonan, who had worked at the station since 1990 and had been a 10 p.m. anchor since 1994, was replaced by Dave Huddleston, 38, who is black. 

Lingerie shop sued on church pledge

August 14, 2002
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Victoria's Secret on Tuesday alleging that one of its lingerie shops didn't honor a promise to give a devout Baptist saleswoman most Sundays off to go to church.
     The lawsuit said managers at a suburban Philadelphia Victoria's Secret promised Lauren Ellerson when she was hired that she wouldn't be required to work more than one Sunday a month.
     Instead, Ellerson said the store in Langhorne regularly scheduled her to work on the Sabbath and that managers ignored her request to be given the third Sunday of each month off so she could receive Holy Communion. 

Sara Lee agrees to pay settlement

May 29, 2002
Sara Lee Foods Corp. has agreed to pay $3.5 million to 139 black employees who complained of racial harassment and retaliation at a hot-dog plant that closed last year.
      The former employees at the Philadelphia-based Ball Park Franks plant charged that they were subjected to racial slurs and racist cartoons and graffiti; denied promotions; given extra work; and forced to undergo frequent drug testing.
      They said white employees who wore hoods and pretended to be Ku Klux Klansmen or used slurs were inadequately disciplined, if at all.

Allstate accused of intimidation

May 20, 2002
A federal agency has accused Allstate Insurance Co. of unlawfully intimidating 650 life insurance agents who lost health and pension benefits when they were switched from Allstate employees to independent contractors.
      The accusation mirrors one leveled earlier by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of 6,500 other agents.
      Allstate switched the 650 agents' work status in 2000 and 2001. At the time, the agents were told they could not work as company contractors unless they signed a release prohibiting them from suing for any past discrimination, according to the EEOC.

Pa. group files race, sex suit against landlord

April 22, 2002
The Fair Housing Council of Montgomery County and three female plaintiffs filed a federal a lawsuit today against Gary Greco, a Norristown landlord, charging discriminatory housing practices.
      The complaint charges that Greco engaged in racial and sexual harassment against female renters. The three female plaintiffs allege Greco made sexually explicit comments, entered their apartment without notice, made sexual advances or made derogatory statements about African Americans.
      One tenant complained that Greco entered her apartment while she was showering. Another plaintiff complained that when Greco made sexual comments to her during the application phase of renting. When she protested about the comments that Greco made and requested her deposit money back, he refused. Greco also made derogatory racial and sexual comments to another plaintiff.


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