BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a lawsuit on Friday against the owner of a Dorchester apartment building for allegedly violating the state's anti-discrimination law.
The complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court on March 2, alleges that Shirley Smith Bragel refused to rent a unit to a recipient of federal housing assistance. Named as defendants in the lawsuit were Bragel Associates, the Bridgeview Realty Trust, and George and Shirley Smith Bragel, who manage and own 11 Boston-area rental properties.
"We are facing critical affordable housing needs in the commonwealth and the strain on those needing rental or transitional housing assistance is particularly great," Coakley said. "Realtors, brokers and landlords in Massachusetts must understand that discrimination against those holding housing assistance subsidies is illegal and we will seek to hold accountable those who break the law."
Shirley Smith Bragel allegedly told the prospective tenant that she could not rent the apartment because the prospective tenant had a housing voucher. State law dictates that it is illegal to discriminate against housing applicants because they are the recipients of public assistance.
Coakley's office filed the lawsuit after the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination found probable cause that the defendants had allegedly discriminated unlawfully against the prospective tenant. Coakley's office is requesting that the defendants refrain from any future discrimination along with civil penalties and damages for the victim.