Wednesday, October 22, 2014

$80,000 SETTLEMENT IN HOUSING DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT

The Justice Department recently announced that a settlement was reached with the owners and operators of an apartment community in Fremont, California.

The lawsuit challenged a policy upheld by the complex which prohibited children from playing outside in the common grassy areas. It was argued through this litigation, that the actions of the defendants constituted a pattern or practice of discrimination against families with children residing on the property.

Complaints were filed with the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development by 5 families who claimed to be negatively impacted by the apartment policy. HUD investigated allegations and then issued a charge of discrimination against those responsible for initiating and maintaining the policy.

“Federal law guarantees families with children the right to equal access to housing, including full access to their homes’ amenities and facilities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “Settlements such as this one help ensure that all families can enjoy that right.”

The defendants will pay $77,500 to the victims of their discrimination, and $2,500 to the government as a civil penalty. Additionally, they will be required to implement a nondiscrimination policy, establish new enforcement procedures for rule violations and undergo training on the Fair Housing Act.

As a property owner, is important that you are familiar with the laws surrounding the rental industry. Please refer to our website (www.eRentalServicesInc.com) or contact our office in order to obtain more information on best practice for resident screening and how to stay in compliance with the federal Fair Housing Act.

Source: United States Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs; http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/July/14-crt-785.html

Friday, October 3, 2014

EEOC CRITICIZED FOR RECOMMENDATIONS

Guidelines put into effect in 2012 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have recently come under heavy scrutiny in front of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.

The guidelines are supposed to safeguard employees from workplace discrimination, however, many argue that they are doing a great disservice to employers.  Not only has there been significant uncertainty about what is considered to be justified pre-employment screening, but employers are now caught between two bleak options. They either risk EEOC violations by thoroughly screening potential employees, or limit their screening and increase the risk for employing a criminal. Either may have devastating results for their company.

Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., has said that these guidelines not only hinder the employer but could have a negative impact on the overall community: “In certain occupations, a background check of prospective employees is critical to public safety.”  These concerns are especially apparent when hiring employees that will be entering private residences or working with children.

Additional complaints were voiced concerning inconsistencies in the EEOC’s approach to investigation and enforcement of discrimination allegations. This seems to be exemplified by recent losses during court cases where the EEOC has challenged an employer’s use of background screening.

Though nothing in the 2012 guidelines prevents employers from conducting criminal records screening during pre-employment, they are supposed to distinguish instances where such screening is appropriate. Unfortunately, confusion and uncertainty are marring the outlined path and have created an unstable foundation for business looking to hire responsibly.

To follow this topic and access other useful screening resources, visit: www.eRentalServicesInc.com