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Archive for December, 2016

U.S. Department of Justice Weekly Digest (Dec. 2016)

Monday, December 26th, 2016

CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION HIGHLIGHTS

Joshua Brandon Vallum, 29, of Lucedale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime for assaulting and murdering Mercedes Williamson because she was a transgender woman. Williamson, born Michael Wilkins, was 17 years old and resided in Alabama at the time of her death. Vallum was charged with violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This was the first case prosecuted under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act where the victim was targeted because of gender identity. In a statement announcing the guilty plea, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said: “Our nation’s hate crime statutes advance one of our fundamental beliefs: that no one should have to live in fear because of who they are. Today’s landmark guilty plea reaffirms that basic principle, and it signals the Justice Department’s determination to combat hate crimes based on gender identity.”

Following a comprehensive investigation, the Justice Department released its findings that Louisiana unnecessarily relies on nursing facilities to provide services to people with mental health disabilities, in violation of the community integration mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C.

The Justice Department reached an agreement with Princeton University to resolve a compliance review initiated in May 2014 regarding Princeton’s treatment of students with mental health disabilities and its policies and practices related to requests for reasonable modifications, withdrawals and leaves of absences. The agreement details specific steps Princeton will take to strengthen its policies, practices and training to benefit all current and future Princeton students with disabilities.

The Justice Department announced that it found reasonable cause to believe that the Ville Platte, Louisiana, Police Department (VPPD) and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The department found that VPPD and EPSO used a procedure the agencies called an “investigative hold” to detain individuals without probable cause during criminal investigations. As a result of this pattern or practice, people in Louisiana’s Evangeline Parish have been arrested and placed in holding cells without probable cause. Often, individuals were in holding cells for several days at a time, where they were unable to contact family, friends or employers and had limited access to food and personal items.

For more information, go to www.justice.gov.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (Dec. 23, 2016)

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

For more information, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Unified or Combined State Plans Now Available
The U.S. Departments of Labor and Education have announced the availability of the approved Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Unified or Combined State Plans. The public and workforce system stakeholders may view, download, or search the State Plans for information on how states are undertaking the implementation of WIOA. The search feature provides users a method for searching any or all State plans based on a topic, word, or phrase within a section, multiple sections, or the entirety of a State plan, and to compare strategies and practices. Under WIOA, the Governor of each State and outlying area must submit a Unified or Combined State Plan to the U.S. Department of Labor that outlines a four-year strategy for the State’s workforce development system. States submitted their four-year WIOA State Plans for Federal review and approval in 2016. The U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Agriculture, whose programs are addressed, provided review and approval for each State Plan for the period July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018. The WIOA State Plans provide valuable information about the various investment, programs, and initiatives underway to serve our jobseekers, students, and businesses across the country.

Workforce Recruitment Program Launches 2017 Database
The 2017 Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) database was launched on December 19, 2016. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense, the WRP is the premier resource of college students and recent graduates with disabilities, from over 330 campuses nationwide, who are seeking summer or permanent employment in federal agencies and private companies worldwide. Anyone with a .gov or .mil email address can access the 1,950 students in the WRP database directly by signing up as an employer at www.wrp.gov. Every candidate is Schedule A eligible, and the database is searchable so employers can find job candidates with the specific skills they require. Employers in the private and non-profit sectors can gain access to the WRP through the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN).

CDE and AAPD to Host Twitter Chat on Disability Mentoring — January 12, 2017, 2:00-3:00 PM ET
In honor of National Mentoring Month and “I Am a Mentor Day,” ODEP’s Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE) and its member organization the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) are hosting a Twitter chat on Thursday, January 12, 2017, 2:00-3:00 PM ET. Titled “#DisabilityMentors: Supporting the Career Success of Young People with Disabilities,” the chat will feature special guest Derek Shields, co-chair of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition. Don’t miss this chance to engage with Derek and others in an online discussion about career mentoring and its role in the employment success of people with disabilities, especially those who are new to the workforce. To participate in the conversation, please use the hashtag #DisabilityMentors.

PEAT Blog Explores Inclusive and Accessible Workplace Cultures
The ODEP-funded Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) has issued a blog post recapping its recent PEAT Talk webinar, “Fostering a Culture of Inclusion and Accessibility in the Workplace.” The piece offers insights from the event’s featured speaker, Microsoft Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie, who credited inclusive workplace practices with creating a sustained cycle of learning in her company, along with an accessibility mindset that extends to Microsoft’s products.

EARN Releases Latest Newsletter
The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) has issued its December 19 newsletter, featuring information on a free online course for employers on inclusive talent acquisition, the new Federal Exchange on Employment and Disability, the Henry Viscardi Achievement Award recipients, and more.

LEAD Center Publishes LEAD On! Quarterly Newsletter
LEAD On!, the LEAD Center’s quarterly e-newsletter, highlights news and innovations in employment, policy, and economic advancement for people with disabilities. Included in this issue are stories on the WIOA Section 188 Final Rule, a national dialogue on promoting inclusive career pathways, a Provider Transformation Issue Brief on implementation of Employment First practices, LEAD Center webinars, and more.

USBLN Seeks Mentors for the 2017 Rising Leaders Mentoring Program
The U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) Rising Leaders Mentoring Program (RLMP) works with college students and recent graduates across the country to connect them with mentors in business settings in preparation for their transition from school to employment. The USBLN, an ODEP Alliance partner, is currently recruiting mentors for the 2017 RLMP. They are seeking business professionals who are willing to participate in a 6-month mentoring program for college students and recent graduates with disabilities, including veterans. The upcoming RLMP will run from March through August of 2017.

The Justice Department partners with Honduras to Combat Employment Discrimination (Dec. 2016)

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

The Justice Department and the government of Honduras announced a formal partnership to protect workers from discrimination based on citizenship, immigration status and national origin. On December 7, 2016, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and Honduran Charge D’Affaires Luís F. Cordero signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the embassy and its consulates and the Civil Rights Division’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC).

The following is an excerpt of the Memorandum of Understanding. Go to https://www.justice.gov/crt/page/file/917476/download for the complete document.

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING REGARDING WORKER PROTECTIONS AGAINST EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION BASED ON CITIZENSHIP, IMMIGRATION STATUS, OR NATIONAL ORIGIN BETWEEN

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION
OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL FOR IMMIGRATION-RELATED UNFAIR
EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES

AND

THE SECRETARIAT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL
COOPERATION OF HONDURAS

The U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), and the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Honduras (The Secretariat), hereinafter referred to as “the Participants”;
Recognizing that OSC enforces the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1324b, which prohibits (1) citizenship, immigration status, and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, and recruitment or referral of workers for a fee; (2) unfair documentary practices during the process of verifying workers’ employment eligibility; and (3) retaliation for asserting rights under the statute;
Considering that the Honduran Consulates provide services to Honduran nationals and support the rights of such nationals, including their rights under the anti-discrimination provision of the INA; and

Bearing in mind the importance of establishing and maintaining intergovernmental partnerships for the purposes of training, educating the public, increasing access to OSC’s services and resources, and referring allegations of discrimination to the proper agency; Have reached the following understandings:

Section I
Objective

The objective of this MOU is to recognize the collaborative relationship between the Participants to protect Honduran workers in the United States from employment discrimination in hiring, firing and recruiting or referring for a fee based on their citizenship, immigration status, and
national origin; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation.

Section II
Scope

To achieve the objective of this MOU, the Participants, consistent with their respective resources, legal authority and obligations, intend to continue to collaborate to:

1. Provide Honduran nationals with information, guidance, and access to education and training resources to help them understand their rights under the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, 8 U.S.C. § l 324b.
2. Facilitate the referral of appropriate allegations of discrimination, unfair documentary practices, and retaliation to OSC for investigation under 8 U.S.C. § 1324b.

Section III
Responsibilities of the Participants

Consistent with their respective resources, legal authority, and obligations, the Participants intend to continue to work together to achieve the following goals:

For OSC:
1. Conducting training on the application and enforcement of 8 U.S.C. § 1324b at a mutually determined time and place to appropriate Consular staff identified by each Honduran Consulate.
2. Attending and participating in appropriate forums organized by the Honduran Consulates for Honduran nationals and employers involving topics under OSC’s jurisdiction.
3. Disseminating compliance and educational materials through the Embassy to the Honduran Consulates and its stakeholders in other locations.
4. Publicizing this MOU to interested parties.

For the Secretariat:
l. Establishing a system for referring discrimination, unfair documentary practices, and retaliation allegations to OSC based on OSC’s guidance for the referral of allegations.
2. Consulting periodically with OSC to ensure that the Honduran Consulates are referring discrimination, unfair documentary practices, and retaliation allegations in accordance with OSC’s guidance for referrals.

Housing and Urban Development: HUD Approves Housing Discrimination Settlement Between Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority and Family (Dec. 2016)

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today an agreement involving the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority in Las Vegas to resolve allegations that it violated the Fair Housing Act by denying the mother the reasonable accommodation she requested on behalf of her son with disabilities. Read the Voluntary Compliance Agreement.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to persons with disabilities, or from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices for people with disabilities. In addition, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

“Landlords have a legal responsibility to approve reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Agreements like this help housing providers better understand their responsibilities, particularly their obligation to comply with the reasonable accommodation requirements of the Fair Housing Act and Section 504.”

The case came to HUD’s attention after a mother of a son with disabilities filed a complaint alleging that the housing authority failed to grant her request to be transferred to a three-bedroom unit in order to accommodate medical equipment her son required. The housing authority initially informed the mother that it would grant the accommodation, but failed to do so in a timely manner.

Under the agreement, the housing authority will pay the woman $50,000; exempt her from paying rent for six and a half years, which equates to a monetary value of $40,170; provide fair housing training for its staff; submit a reasonable accommodation policy and procedure to HUD for review and approval; and post a fair housing poster in the public space of all of its offices.

Disability is the most common basis of complaint filed with HUD and its partner agencies. Last year alone, HUD considered more than 4,500 disability-related complaints or nearly 55 percent of all fair housing complaints.

People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.

Office of Disability Employment Policy: Business $ense (Dec. 2016)

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Inclusive Apprenticeships: Working for Employers

Need a proven solution for finding and retaining qualified workers? Consider the tried and tested method of apprenticeship, which can help employers develop a highly skilled workforce and grow their business. Apprenticeship programs are available in a wide range of occupations, including traditional fields such as construction, as well as high-growth fields like healthcare and information technology (IT).

Of course, key to the success of any workforce program is inclusion, and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reminds businesses that apprenticeships can provide a career pathway for individuals from many diverse backgrounds, including people with disabilities. In fact, this month, the department released its final rule updating equal employment opportunity regulations for Registered Apprenticeship programs to help businesses reach a larger and more diverse pool of workers.

In this spirit of diversity and inclusion, DOL has released a new video highlighting the many ways apprenticeship works for employers. Titled “Apprenticeship Works,” the video includes interviews with representatives from four organizations who manage or sponsor apprenticeship programs. The featured programs span various fields and feature numerous apprentices with and without disabilities.

Edison Freire, director of technology for the School District of Philadelphia, is one of the employer sponsors featured in the video. “It’s been proven that diversity in the workplace can enrich and make you more competitive,” he says. “Apprenticeships can become the vehicle to help a company diversify.”

His colleague and the school district’s chief information officer Melanie Harris also offers valuable advice about apprentices with disabilities. “I would say to any employer that had any hesitation about hiring someone from an apprenticeship program with a disability, or quite frankly anybody with a disability, that the energy and excitement that someone brings to the job and the desire to learn really should be your only focus — and that’s worked out for us tenfold.”

This video for apprenticeship sponsors is one in a two-part series; the other, catalogued under “Apprenticeship Recruits,” focuses on the value of apprenticeships to apprentices themselves. To access both, and learn more about inclusive apprenticeships, visit the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s “Apprenticeship” web page.

For more information, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

EEOC and “Rebooting Harassment Prevention” – Report of the Co-Chairs of the Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace (Dec. 2016)

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

WASHINGTON — In June of 2016, EEOC Commissioners Chai Feldblum and Victoria Lipnic, Co-chairs of the Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, released their task force report entitled “Rebooting Harassment Prevention.”

Delineating the results of an 18 month project, the report sets out findings on the factors that influence potential workplace harassment and the culture that fosters it, and recommends specific ways to help prevent it.

This is an opportunity for you to hear the Co-Chairs findings and recommendations directly from Commissioners Feldblum and Lipnic, and to take them back to your workplace. So bring your lunch, and join us at EEOC to hear how your agency can more effectively deal with harassment in the workplace.

When: Tuesday, January 10, 2017, from 12:00 – 1:30 pm (arrive 10-15 minutes early to clear security in time)

Where: EEOC HQ – 131 M St NE; NOMA Stop on the Red Line

You must RSVP in advance to attend. Seating is limited, so RSVP today! Send an email to FedENews@eeoc.gov. Include “RSVP for January 10th Harassment Prevention Brown Bag” in the subject line.

Send accommodation requests to yelder@eeoc.gov. Include “Accommodation Request for January 10th Harassment Prevention Brown Bag” in the subject line.

EEOC Issues Publication on the Rights of Job Applicants and Employees With Mental Health Conditions (Dec. 2016)

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

User-Friendly Document Explains Workplace Protections Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued a resource document that explains workplace rights for individuals with mental health conditions under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

Depression, PTSD, & Other Mental Health Conditions in the Workplace: Your Legal Rights explains that job applicants and employees with mental health conditions are protected from employment discrimination and harassment based on their conditions. They may also have a right to reasonable accommodations at work. Reasonable accommodations are work adjustments that can help individuals to perform their jobs and remain employed. The resource document also answers questions about how to get an accommodation, some types of accommodations, restrictions on employer access to medical information, confidentiality, and the role of the EEOC in enforcing the rights of people with disabilities.

EEOC charge data shows that charges of discrimination based on mental health conditions are on the rise. During fiscal year 2016, preliminary data shows EEOC resolved almost 5,000 charges of discrimination based on mental health conditions, obtaining approximately $20 million for individuals with mental health conditions who were unlawfully denied employment and reasonable accommodations.

“Many people with common mental health conditions have important protections under the ADA,” said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. “Employers, job applicants, and employees should know that mental health conditions are no different than physical health conditions under the law. In our recent outreach to veterans who have returned home with service-connected disabilities, we have seen the need to raise awareness about these issues. This resource document aims to clarify the protections that the ADA affords employees.”

The resource document is part of an ongoing series of publications providing individuals with medical conditions or work restrictions with user-friendly explanations of their rights, and with information that they can give to a health care provider to explain how to provide appropriate medical documentation, if required. Earlier this year EEOC published resource documents addressing the employment rights of individuals with HIV infection and individuals who are pregnant. The new publication’s companion document, The Mental Health Provider’s Role in a Client’s Request for a Reasonable Accommodation at Work, can be found here.

EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division News (Dec. 2016)

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

For more information, go to www.justice.gov.

Marcus D. Washington of Knoxville, Tennessee, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance; and possession with intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance.

Atlanta Police Sergeant Trevor King, 48, of Rex, Georgia, was charged by a federal grand jury with violating the rights of a man by using excessive force against him on Oct. 13, 2014.

Head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta delivered remarks at the division’s annual awards ceremony. She spoke about the division’s history dating back to the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and explained that “Congress created this division to tackle the toughest issues, to serve as an independent and forceful agency of justice and hope. You cannot be an agent of change without a deep reservoir of hope. It’s the hope that men and women today can build a more just, more inclusive and more free future for the children of tomorrow. It’s the hope that thanks to all of you in the Civil Rights Division, people will reap the benefits of this work for generations to come – in safer streets, in desegregated schools, in fair markets and in stronger communities. It’s the hope that despite the zigs and the zags of our nation’s history, you will continue to ensure that America marches forward, imperfectly yet inexorably.”

The Justice Department and the government of Honduras announced a formal partnership to protect workers from discrimination based on citizenship, immigration status and national origin.

The Justice Department announced that the developers of six multi-family housing complexes in southern Mississippi have agreed to pay $350,000 to settle claims that they violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by building apartment complexes that were inaccessible to persons with disabilities. As part of the settlement, the defendants also agreed to make substantial retrofits to remove accessibility barriers at the six complexes, which have nearly 500 covered units.

After a five-day trial, a federal jury found Justin Cole Whittington, 25, of Bakersfield, California, guilty of federal hate crimes for firing a shotgun while yelling racist slurs at a Latino man.

The Justice Department reached an agreement with the Watson Chapel, Arkansas, School District to ensure that the district does not discriminate on the basis of race in its administration of school discipline. The consent order, approved by the District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, will replace the use of punitive discipline with more positive approaches as part of an overall focus on improving student achievement and school climate.

Head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta joined Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch for a small group discussion with LGBT Youth at Harvey Milk High School in New York City. Following the discussion, Attorney General Lynch delivered remarks and said, “This is a great country as you know but it’s only great if everyone gets the chance to participate, if everyone has a chance to be seen for who they truly are.”

Attorney General Lynch delivered remarks at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center at an interfaith event on the Justice Department’s commitment to combating hate crimes, explaining that “hate crimes don’t just target individuals. They tear at the fabric of our communities, and they also stain our dearest ideals and our nation’s very soul.”

The Justice Department opened a civil pattern-or-practice investigation into the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

The Justice Department issued a resource to protect religious institutions from discriminatory zoning and land use regulations.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Sterling Heights, Michigan, alleging that the city violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) when it denied special land use approval to allow the American Islamic Community Center Inc. (AICC) to build a mosque on five adjoining parcels of land located in the city.

The Justice Department announced that it has entered into a comprehensive agreement with the St. Louis County Family Court to resolve the department’s findings of serious and systemic violations of juvenile due process and equal protection rights.

David Q. Givhan, aka “Premier,” 34, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, was convicted by a jury of one count of sex trafficking and three counts of interstate transportation for prostitution.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Culpeper County, Virginia, alleging that the county violated RLUIPA when it denied a sewage permit application to the Islamic Center of Culpeper (ICC), effectively preventing the ICC from building a small mosque on land that it had purchased in the county. The land is located in a zoning district where religious land use is permitted by right.

The Justice Department announced that it has opened an investigation into the conditions at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Virginia. The investigation will focus on whether the jail violates the constitutional rights of inmates to adequate medical and mental health care; violates the constitutional rights of inmates who have mental illness by secluding them in isolation for prolonged time periods; and violates the rights of inmates who have mental illness by denying them access to services, programs and activities because of their disability.

The Justice Department reached an agreement resolving claims that 1st Class Staffing LLC, a staffing company based in Orem, Utah, discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The Justice Department announced that on Dec. 9, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska ruled in the department’s favor in its breach of contract claim against Nebraska Beef Ltd., a meat packing company based in Omaha.

Vanita Gupta delivered remarks at a White House convening on advancing equity for women and girls of color, explaining that “Across the Obama Administration, we all believe that empowering girls today – providing them a seat at the table and defending their civil rights – will help our country reach its full potential tomorrow. How we treat women and girls of color, how we lift each other up and how we inspire one another changes lives. It strengthens families. And it transforms communities.”

US Department of Labor Announces A Final Rule Updating its Equal Employment Opportunity in Apprenticeship Regulations (Dec. 2016)

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

Registered Apprenticeship is a powerful tool for growing the economy and the workforce. It helps workers and employers by providing skills-driven training tailored to the needs of the nation’s businesses. The Administration is working to double and diversify the number of apprentices in the United States in order to ensure that more Americans from all backgrounds can benefit from this proven training model. As part of this effort, the US Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, announced a final rule that updates and simplifies the guidelines governing how employers and other apprenticeship sponsors ensure equal employment opportunity in apprenticeship programs for traditionally under-represented groups, including women, minorities, and people with disabilities.

You can view this final rule on the Office of Federal Register’s public inspection Web site at https://federalregister.gov/d/2016-29910. The full text of the final rule and other information are on the Office of Apprenticeship’s Web site at https://www.doleta.gov/oa/eeo/.

HUD Charges Utah Landlords With Discriminating Against Residents With Disabilities (Dec. 2016)

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging the owner and manager of a Salt Lake City apartment complex with housing discrimination for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act by denying the reasonable accommodation requests of residents with disabilities.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to persons with disabilities, or from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices for people with disabilities.

“For nearly three decades, people with disabilities have had a right to request the reasonable accommodations they need to fully enjoy their homes, but that right is still being denied,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to take actions that ensure that property owners and managers understand their rights and responsibilities under the law and take steps to comply with those obligations.”

The case came to HUD’s attention when the Disability Law Center filed a fair housing complaint with HUD on behalf of a female resident with disabilities at Pine Cove Apartments, in Salt Lake City, who alleged that the owner, BJJ Enterprises, and the manager of the 48-unit complex had denied her request to keep an assistance animal. The Disability Law Center conducted fair housing tests, which revealed evidence that Pine Cove managers discriminated against people with disabilities. According to HUD’s Charge, Pine Cove strictly adheres to its “no-pets” policy, even when medical documentation attesting to the need for a reasonable accommodation is presented.

Disability is the most common basis of complaint filed with HUD and its partner agencies. Last year alone, HUD and its partners considered more than 4,500 disability-related complaints, nearly 55 percent of all fair housing complaints.

HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge. If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the complainants for their loss as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest.

People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.