Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) announced it resolved three fair housing cases from Arkansas, settling allegations that the owners and property management company discriminated against a number of residents because of their national origin. Additionally, one of the now settled claims asserted that management retaliated against an employee who wanted to inform residents of their fair housing rights under the law.

Factually, in two cases the complainants asserted they received an eviction notice (and management started eviction proceedings) against them because of their national origin (the residents were from the Marshall Islands). In the retaliation case, an employee (who lived at the property) claimed she was fired from her job and that she received an eviction notice because she informed residents that the residents were being discriminated against.

Pursuant to the agreement, the Respondents agreed to pay the now former residents at total of $51,000, revise and distribute a non-discrimination policy as well as affirmatively market housing opportunities to immigrant communities in the local Arkansas area.

With my standard admonition that there are two sides to every story (and the facts provided by HUD are sparse), I can say that in my experience HUD takes a dim view if the Department can prove an employee was terminated because he or she assisted or informed residents of their fair housing rights. The settlement amount here ($51,000) likely reflects something more than is paid in a typical case.  Additionally, the fact that the Respondents agreed to specifically market housing opportunities to reach immigrants in the local area reflects HUD’s view that remedial compliance was needed.

Just A Thought.