Seattle, WA

Discrimination alleged at 13 Seattle rental properties

June 13, 2015
More than a dozen Seattle rental properties — including large, sleek new developments in hot neighborhoods like Ballard and South Lake Union — engaged in housing discrimination, the city says, citing results of sting operations last year.
     Property owners and their agents treated prospective tenants differently based on race, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity, said the Seattle Office of Civil Rights (SOCR), which contracted with the Fair Housing Center of Washington to have “testers” pose as potential renters.
      The SOCR filed illegal-discrimination complaints earlier this year with the Washington State Human Rights Commission against the owners of 13 properties, including AVA Ballard and Neptune in South Lake Union.
     Together, the 13 properties contain more than 2,800 rental units, according to the city’s rental-housing database.

City settles with 5 landlords accused of discrimination

December 04, 2011
The city of Seattle has settled with five landlords accused of discriminating against black and disabled renters, in a case that involved a months-long investigation originally targeting 48 properties.
     In October, the city's Office for Civil Rights said its investigation - involving undercover testers posing as renters - had revealed a widespread pattern of discrimination against black and disabled people.
     Officials said more than half of the properties tested had showed evidence of housing discrimination, in what they called a revealing snapshot of "normal, everyday business practices" in Seattle.
     Practices included quoting higher rent to blacks than whites, neglecting to tell black renters of a move-in special, and doing credit and criminal checks not done on whites.
     Regarding disabled renters, the city said some landlords had refused to accommodate service animals or had asked for a pet deposit.
     

Seattle finds widespread discrimination by rental property owners

October 21, 2011
An undercover investigation launched by the city of Seattle found widespread discrimination against African-American and disabled people seeking to rent an apartment in the city.
     The city tested 48 apartment buildings, sending in white, black and disabled people to pose as prospective renters. More than half of the properties discriminated.
     At the Mercedes Apartments on Queen Anne, the city found discrimination against the disabled. At the olympus Apartments in Belltown, investigators found discrimination against blacks.

Feds file fair-housing lawsuit against Renton apartment complex

July 18, 2010
The Justice Department filed a federal lawsuit Friday against the owner, management company and former manager of Summerhill Place Apartments, a 268-unit apartment complex in Renton ,for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin and familial status in the rental of apartments.
     The Renton Reporter reported in April on a federal charge filed against the defendants. The Summerhill Apartment complex is at 10415 S.E. 174th St. on Benson Hill.
     The defendants have asked that the charges be heard in federal court. Representatives of the defendants couldn’t be reached for immediate comment.
     The lawsuit is explained in a press release from the Justice Department.
     

Feds file fair-housing lawsuit against Renton apartment complex

July 18, 2010
The Justice Department filed a federal lawsuit Friday against the owner, management company and former manager of Summerhill Place Apartments, a 268-unit apartment complex in Renton ,for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin and familial status in the rental of apartments.
     The Renton Reporter reported in April on a federal charge filed against the defendants. The Summerhill Apartment complex is at 10415 S.E. 174th St. on Benson Hill.
     The defendants have asked that the charges be heard in federal court. Representatives of the defendants couldn’t be reached for immediate comment.
     The lawsuit is explained in a press release from the Justice Department.
     

Book examines how settling of black, white Southerners across America shaped us

February 06, 2006
Aretha Franklin's family left the South in the 1940s. Her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, moved north from Memphis, looking for a bigger pulpit for his beautiful sermons. The man Jesse Jackson called "the most imitated soul preacher in history" found a new home at Detroit's New Bethel Baptist Church. Aretha Franklin, who would grow up to become the queen of soul music, saw the gospel and soul greats of the 20th century pass through her front door — Mahalia Jackson, Dinah Washington, Sam Cooke and Lou Rawls.

Rights office finds little amiss

December 13, 2005
Seattle residents who think they have been discriminated against and want the Seattle Office for Civil Rights to go to bat for them may be expecting too much.
     The city agency charged with enforcing civil rights takes months to investigate a case. And when the inquiry by the office is over, chances are that not much will come of it.
     Last year, the office discovered discrimination in about 1 percent of more than 200 complaints it handled. Some critics say that isn't impressive for an office that has a $1.8 million budget and 22 full-time employees, including six investigators.
     The lack of actions has led to nothing but frustration for people like Don Ross, a psychoanalyst, who filed a complaint with the office two years ago. His son, Eli, then 14, was in an Albertsons store in Magnolia when an employee ordered him out.
     The employee and co-workers confused the teenager, who is Latino, with another young man, also Latino, who had stolen wine from the supermarket. The employees weren't Hispanic. Don Ross says it was clearly discrimination. The store said it was a simple case of mistaken identity.
     He complained to the civil rights office. Two years and two appeals later, Don Ross and his son have yet to get a ruling that the store discriminated.
     "I want this office taken to task for poorly investigating this case on behalf of my son," Ross said. "I don't believe the Office for Civil Rights is spending its resources attending to cases that I think are common for many minorities."

Microsoft draws fire for shift on gay rights bill

April 26, 2005
Microsoft Corp. has long taken pride in its progressive employment practices. It was one of the first major companies to provide domestic partner benefits, and it has long included sexual orientation in its own anti-discrimination policies. The company, headquartered in Washington state, also is one of a handful to protect workers based on whether they follow gender conventions or not, through their dress, mannerisms or other expression.
     But Microsoft's decision to withdraw its support for state legislation that would have banned discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, employment and insurance drew sharp criticism yesterday from those who say the company missed an opportunity to make an important public statement. Instead, they say, Microsoft caved in to pressure from religious conservatives who opposed the bill, which failed by one vote last week.
     "For a company that presents itself as cutting-edge and forward-thinking, such a move seems backward," Robert L. Jamieson Jr., a columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, wrote yesterday. "And for a company recognized as a corporate leader for its treatment of gay employees, such inaction seems hypocritical, too."

Microsoft may rethink position on gay-rights bill

April 26, 2005
Microsoft may re-evaluate whether to support state legislation that would ban discrimination against gays and lesbians, Chairman Bill Gates said yesterday.
     Gates said Microsoft was surprised by the sharp reaction after it became known that the company took a neutral position on the perennial measure this year, after actively supporting it in previous years.
     "Next time this one comes around, we'll see," he said. "We certainly have a lot of employees who sent us mail. Next time it comes around that'll be a major factor for us to take into consideration."
     The legislation was rejected by one vote in the state Senate last Thursday, prompting outrage toward Microsoft among advocates for the legislation.
     The reaction was fueled in part by a story in The Stranger alternative newspaper that suggested Microsoft had caved to pressure from a fundamentalist Christian pastor. Other papers followed up on the story, including The Seattle Times and The New York Times, which ran its story Friday on its front page.

Workers get class-action OK in Boeing suit

January 24, 2005
Current and former African American employees of Boeing Co. have been granted class-action status in their lawsuit accusing the defense giant of discrimination and harassing black workers.
     The ruling, handed down by U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman, means about 15,000 African American salaried workers employed by the Chicago-based company from June 6, 1994, to the present can unite under one complaint to seek damages.
     The suit, filed in 1998, doesn't include executives and technicians represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.

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