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landlord helpA property manager in South Dakota will have to pay $15,000 in civil penalties for racial discrimination, and for her retaliation against two white families who befriended the victims.

The landlord  paid $30,000 in a previous settlement.

The manager was accused of using racial epithets in reference to the African-American family and in the presence of all three families, including minor children. Two white families that had befriended the African-American family claimed to be victims of retaliation. All three families eventually moved out as a result.

The lawsuit was the result of complaints the three families filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After an investigation, HUD found reasonable cause to believe that unlawful discrimination had occurred and referred the matter to the Justice Department.

Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department.  Both HUD and the Department of Justice have made it clear they will pursue a “zero-tolerance” policy when it comes to discrimination in rental housing.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status.

In addition to paying the civil penalty, the court order prohibits the property manager from participating in the management or operation of rental housing for three years.

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