Apartment Complex Settles Federal Lawsuit

     BOSTON (CN) – The operator of a North Attleboro, Mass., apartment complex will set up a $135,000 fund and pay a $7,500 fine to settle charges it segregated families from residents who don’t have children, the U.S. Justice Department said.
     The settlement was announced April 30, the same day the agency filed a complaint against J&R Associates, the operator of the 224-unit Royal Park Apartments, in Boston Federal Court.
     According to the complaint, J&R Associates discouraged and restricted families from renting certain buildings in the complex and engages in conduct that indicates preference, limitation and discrimination based on familial status.
     The Justice Department said its complaint was filed after an extensive investigation in which agents posed as home-seekers and renters to determine whether illegal discrimination was taking place.
     According to the complaint, over a five month period in 2014, the Justice Department conducted a series of visits to the apartment complex.
     During one of these visits in January 2013, the rental agent told the applicant that families with children were intentionally segregated in different buildings from tenants without children.
     “The only buildings with kids are five, seven and eight; one, two three, four and six are adult. You will see some kids there ’cause if they are born there I can’t throw them away. They have to stay there,” said the complaint says, allegedly quoting the rental agent. “These four buildings along the courtside, that’s where I would probably want to put you. They are basically adult buildings. The children we put in family buildings down in the back.”
     During a later visit, in April 2014, the rental agent allegedly reiterated the anti-children policy to another federal tester who applied for residency as the mother of a two-year-old son.
     “Buildings here, the four [buildings], we try to keep working professionals so the kids aren’t running around screaming,” the agent is quoted as saying.
     Representatives of the Royal Park Apartments disputed the claims of the DOJ, despite settling the case according to a statement provided via email by the defendant’s attorney, Bruce Falby of DLA Piper LLP.
     “Royal Park Apartments disagrees with the assertions and claims made by the government,” the statement said. “Royal Park Apartments actively markets to families with children and has 88 families with children currently residing at our apartments. We have families with children in every building and on every floor across the buildings.”
     The statement further explained that the defendants issued a consent order as a compromise.
     “To avoid the cost of litigation we agreed to settle the case by the entry of the agreed upon consent decree,” it said. “The consent decree acknowledges our denial of the government’s allegations and claims. We are glad to resolve this matter amicably and look forward to continuing to welcome families with children to Royal Park Apartments.”

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