WASHINGTON, January 4, 2008 – The Justice Department today announced that it has reached an agreement resolving a housing discrimination lawsuit against Gary Luke, Mary Ngo and Hoa Ngo concerning alleged discrimination on the basis of national origin. Under the consent decree filed today in federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., the defendants will pay $270,844 in monetary relief to the complainants and the United States.
The Department amended complaint alleges that the defendants terminated the leases of Hispanic tenants to replace them with Vietnamese tenants, misrepresented the availability of units to non-Vietnamese prospective tenants, and made statements in connection with the rental of apartment units that expressed a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on national origin.
The Fair Housing Act protects people of every national origin from discrimination in housing, said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department Civil Rights Division. The Department of Justice is committed to continued vigorous enforcement of federal laws to protect people, regardless of their national origin, from housing discrimination.
The lawsuit arose as a result of a charge issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The consent decree, which must be approved by the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., calls for training, a nondiscrimination policy, record keeping and monitoring. Additionally, defendants will pay $174,000 in damages to private plaintiffs; $59,344 to counsel for private plaintiffs in the form of attorney costs, fees and litigation expenses; $30,000 in civil penalties to the United States; and $7,500 in damages to an aggrieved individual.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Since Jan. 1, 2001, the Justice Department Civil Rights Division has filed 241 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act, 22 of which have alleged discrimination based on national origin. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line (1-800-896-7743), email the Justice Department at fairhousing (at) usdoj (dot) gov, or contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.