How many times are we going to see this? In December 2010, the DOJ filed another complaint, this time against a Gulfport, Mississippi newspaper and two individuals for violating the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by discriminating against families with children.
The lawsuit claims that a weekly newspaper distributed along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the FHA or denied rights protected by the law by accepting and publishing ten advertisements for rental housing that stated illegal preferences against families with children.
The litigation follows complaints filed with the HUD by a fair housing group and a woman with three children who was searching for housing for her family. The woman’s search led her to a weekly newspaper in which she read an ad offering a house for rent with the note: "no children." The prospective resident contacted a housing rights which conducted fair housing testing at the property in question and claims to have monitored the advertisements published in the newspaper. After HUD investigated the complaints, it issued three charges of discrimination and the matters were referred to the Justice Department.
The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination by the defendants, monetary damages for those harmed by the defendants’ actions and a civil penalty.
The complaint, of course, is but an allegation of unlawful conduct. The claims must still be proven in court and as a defense lawyer, I always want to hear the other side of the story. But in today's housing marketplace, owners and property management companies just cannot publish advertising which excludes children on its face.