Spokane – William D. Hyslop, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that the United States has reached a resolution of a housing discrimination lawsuit in Pullman, Washington concerning discrimination against a mother with a disability and her son.
Under the terms of the consent decree approved by the Federal Court in Spokane, Ed L. Christensen is required to pay $13,000 in monetary relief to a mother and son who were threatened with fines and eviction for having an assistance animal in the apartment they rented from Christensen. The consent decree also requires Christensen to take numerous corrective measures, including training, adopting a nondiscrimination policy, record keeping, and monitoring for a period of three years.
According to allegations in the complaint, which originated from an investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Christensen refused to allow the victims to have an assistance animal in their apartment, threatened to fine and evict the victims if they did not remove the service animal, and also told fair housing testers from Northwest Fair Housing Alliance that he would not rent to an individual with a prescribed service animal.
United States Attorney Hyslop said, “Individuals with a disability should not be discriminated against or barred from renting because they have an assistance animal. The Fair Housing Act ensures that individuals renting or seeking to rent an apartment are protected from this kind of discrimination. My office, in coordination with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, will continue to vigorously investigate and protect the civil rights of individuals with a disability in the Eastern District of Washington and across the country.”
“HUD brought this case because telling individuals with a disability they cannot have an assistance animal in their apartment or threatening them with fines or evictions for having an assistance animal is illegal,” said Anna Maria Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Individuals with a disability may not be denied access to rentals or penalized for having an assistance animal.”
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt. Persons who believe they have experienced or witnessed unlawful housing discrimination may call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at email@example.com, or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777. More information about the Fair Housing Act can also be found at http://www.justice.gov/crt/housing/ or http://www.hud.gov/fairhousing.
This case was investigated by the Seattle Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Northwest Fair Housing Alliance in Spokane represented the victims. This case was prosecuted by Joseph P. Derrig, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.