Lambda Settles Case Against Broker That Turned Away Gay Renters
(NEW YORK, April 14, 2000) -- Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund announced Friday that it has reached a settlement with the Brooklyn broker charged with unlawful discrimination for refusing to rent a one- bedroom apartment in Park Slope to two gay men.
"The word is out that housing discrimination based on sexual orientation cannot be ignored in New York City," said Lambda Staff Attorney Marvin Peguese, who represented the couple, 21-year-old Gabriel Beaton and 24-year-old Philip Alberti.
"This settlement should be a lasting reminder to brokers, landlords and property owners that rejecting renters solely on the basis of their sexual orientation has been illegal in New York for over sixteen years," he said.
Added Lambda Legal Director Beatrice Dohrn, "In settling the case, this broker has demonstrated a commitment to upholding New York City law against discrimination in housing. All realtors now should take note of this important lesson."
Although exact terms of the settlement are confidential, the broker, F.J. Kazeroid Realty, has agreed to a monetary settlement to compensate the two men for their ordeal. Additionally, all employees of the brokerage will also sign a statement attesting to their understanding and compliance with fair housing laws, and the realtor has agreed to institute anti-discrimination trainings to ensure that future mistakes are avoided.
"Hopefully, as a result of this settlement, other renters will not have to go through this kind of hardship," said Beaton, who along with Alberti was forced to scramble for another apartment after the landlord instructed the broker not to rent his property to gay men. "We put down a deposit and were assured the place was ours, but the landlord's biases threatened to put us out on the street since we had to be out of our old apartment," he said.
On February 16, Lambda filed suit on Beaton and Alberti's behalf in Kings County Supreme Court, charging both the landlord, Harold Vinje of Vinje Realty Corp., and the broker with violating the New York City Human Rights Law. The law prohibits, among others, housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
After the couple was denied the apartment, a New York City fair housing organization that investigates incidents of discrimination used volunteers posing as gay and non-gay couples, and determined there was a pattern of discrimination against gay renters.
"The case against this discriminatory landlord will go forward. Now, in open court, the landlord will face the weight of compelling evidence of discrimination as well as one of the toughest laws against housing discrimination in the country," Peguese said.
The landlord continues to deny the charges alleged in the complaint. Lambda is the nation's oldest and largest legal organization dedicated to the civil rights of lesbians, gay men and people with HIV/AIDS. Headquartered in New York, Lambda has regional offices in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago.
CONTACT: Peg Byron 212-809-8585 x230, 1-888-987-1984 pager
Marvin C. Peguese 212-809-8585 x 213