Coakley reaches pair of settlements

Ashley Stinnett Sep. 17, 2009, 3:00pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has reached a settlement with a Waltham-based real estate company over allegations the business violated the state's anti-discrimination act.

According to the State, Chiccarelli Real Estate, Inc., allegedly refused to rent to a woman because she had a Section 8 housing subsidy to pay a portion of her rent.

The Assurance of Discontinuance filed in Suffolk Superior Court on Sept. 15 orders Chiccarelli to assist the woman in finding an apartment to rent, as well as pay part of her rent.

The settlement also bars Chiccarelli from discriminating in the future.

According to the original complaint sent to the Attorney General's Office, the woman was told by an employee of Chiccarelli Real Estate that they had too many Section 8 vouchers already and could not take any more.

However, the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston tested the company the next day and two testers spoke to another employee at Chiccarelli Real Estate who allegedly refused to rent for the same reason, according to the complaint.

The resolution also requires Chiccarelli Real Estate personnel to attend fair housing training and implement non-discrimination policies, as well as advertise as an equal housing opportunity company.

"It is illegal to refuse to rent an apartment to persons holding state or federal housing subsidies," Coakley said.

"Massachusetts landlords, real estate companies and others involved in the rental property business must abide by Massachusetts law prohibiting discrimination against persons with state of federal housing subsidies."

Also, eight employees of a New Hampshire-based framing company will get their money back as a result of a settlement reached.

On Wednesday, Coakley reached an agreement with Professional Framing, LLC, for violating the state's wage and hours laws after it failed to pay employees in a timely manner, she said.

In Dec. 2007, the Attorney General's Fair Labor Division began an investigation after receiving multiple complaints from workers alleging that they had not been paid by the company for carpentry work performed at the Taunton Housing Authority public works project and the North Reading Police Station Project.

Other employees interviewed claimed the company had not paid them for work performed at various other project sites.

The investigation revealed Professional Framing had failed to pay employees during the period of Oct. 2006-Sept. 2007, according to Coakley.

As a result of the agreement, Professional Framing has agreed to pay a total of $21,530 in restitution, including a $1,000 fine to the State.

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