Bryan Cohen Mar. 21, 2014, 2:34pm
SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline) - Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced a settlement on Tuesday with the Housing Authority of Douglas County to resolve allegations of housing discrimination.
A HADCO tenant filed a complaint with the Bureau of Labor and Industries in 2009, alleging a HADCO property manager refused to allow a service puppy to live with her while she cared for her diabetic daughter. Service dogs can be trained to detect and alert other individuals when a diabetic's blood sugar levels are dangerously low.
When the tenant refused to remove the dog, the property manager and staff members allegedly began eviction proceedings and repeatedly harassed the tenant.
The family was eventually forced to move to a non-subsidized property. The tenant alleged the service animal failed to bond with her daughter as a result of stress in the home, and the family was not able to obtain a replacement service animal.
"Housing is a basic human need, and equal access to housing, especially for our most vulnerable citizens, is a basic component of equality," Rosenblum said.
State and federal laws prohibit housing discrimination based on disability and require that landlords make reasonable accommodations.
HADCO agreed to pay a total of $167,000 in damages, including close to $100,000 to the tenant's family and her attorney. HADCO must also pay civil penalties and attorney fees to Rosenblum's office and the BOLI.
HADCO agreed to send its employees to training on federal and state discrimination laws and will let BOLI monitor its evaluation of future accommodation requests.