Feds sue Sterling for bias

SterlingWe've all seen Clippers owner Donald Sterling's ads for his high-rise apartment buildings along the Wilshire corridor and in Koreatown. Well, the U.S. Justice Department filed a discrimination suit Monday that accuses Sterling of favoring Koreans and trying to keep out African American renters and families with children. From today's Los Angeles Times:

The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, charged Sterling with violating the Fair Housing Act, a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, by engaging in "discrimination on the basis of race, national origin and familial status." It also named Sterling's wife, Rochelle, and three Sterling companies and trusts.

Sterling owns about 100 apartment buildings with thousands of rental units in the county. In a prepared statement, Sterling's lawyer, Greg Garbacz, called the charges baseless...Sterling and his companies "are committed to equal housing opportunities for all," Garbacz said, and have "tenants of all races, religions, national origins, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, as well as families."

In the seven-page complaint, Justice Department lawyers said Sterling's agents at various times have refused to rent to non-Koreans at their buildings in Koreatown, and have been guilty of "creating, maintaining, and perpetuating an environment that is hostile" to existing non-Korean tenants. According to the lawsuit, the Sterling companies also have refused to rent to African Americans at properties in Beverly Hills, and have misrepresented the availability of units to blacks and families with children.

Prosecutors are seeking a court order that would bar future acts of discrimination, along with monetary damages for alleged victims, none of whom was identified.

"Here in Los Angeles, where housing is already at a premium, it is imperative that no one be denied housing simply because of their skin color, ethnic background or because they have children," said Debra Wong Yang, U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.

Last year a jury rejected claims by a former apartment supervisor, Sumner Davenport, that Sterling had fired her for refusing his sexual advances.

August 8, 2006 8:37 AM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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