Euless apartment owner settles discrimination lawsuit

Posted Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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An apartment manager is out of a job and the company that owns the complex where she worked is paying $317,000 to settle a federal discrimination lawsuit concerning the segregation of tenants based on race.

“The federal government took my job,” said Nancy Quandt, who left her office at Stonebridge at Bear Creek apartments in Euless last week, the day the owners agreed to the settlement. “I didn’t do anything wrong and it’s not fair.”

The U.S. Department of Justice disagreed, naming Quandt and Minnesota-based S&H Realty Management in a suit based on a January 2010 complaint by a former Stonebridge employee. The suit said that Quandt told leasing agents to segregate tenants of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent into two of the complex’s 21 residential buildings “to isolate any smells allegedly associated with ethnic cuisine that the manager disliked,” according to the Justice Department’s news release.

Officials at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Muslim civil-rights group, were encouraged by the suit’s outcome, said CAIR spokeswoman Alia Salem.

“Anyone who promotes justice and works for civil rights advocacy should be elated,” Salem said. “This was a big win.”

Subject to approval by the federal court in Texas, the settlement ordered that “defendants in United States v. Stonebridge at Bear Creek LLP will pay a total of $107,000 in civil penalties and $210,000 in a damages fund to compensate victims of the defendants’ discrimination identified during the term of the agreement,” the news release said.

The complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development alleged that when apartments in the two designated buildings were filled, the leasing agents had to tell Middle Eastern or South Asian applicants that there were no vacancies among the complex’s 184 units, the release said.

The leasing agent who filed the complaint, Daneisha Davis, told the Star-Telegram in 2010 that she “was told that no one else wanted to live by these people. That they where dirty and they cooked with curry.”

One condition of the settlement was that Quandt would no longer be a Stonebridge employee, and a company spokeswoman said that Quandt resigned last week on her own. The spokeswoman, Nancy Hart, Stonebridge‘s vice president of operations, told the Star-Telegram that the company never has discriminated against anyone.

“We never acknowledged that there was discrimination,” Hart said. “We have residents of many different ethnicities living at Stonebridge now and have had many different ethnicities since the property opened in 1998. We will continue to welcome them all, as we always have.”

Quandt, too, denied the discrimination allegations and regretted having to leave her employer.

“My company, S&H Realty Management, is a very good, professional company and they fought to keep my job,” Quandt said. “The attorney for the federal government wasn’t nice. He said he could take whatever he wanted.”

Other conditions of the settlement include that Stonebridge must “adopt a nondiscrimination policy and enact or undertake numerous other corrective measures, including training, record keeping and monitoring.”

Hart said that the company is complying with all points in the order, and agreed to the settlement to put an end to the lawsuit.

“This investigation has been going on for almost four years,” Hart said. “We signed the order to avoid future legal costs and protracted litigation.”

Davis could not be reached for comment, but she said in an earlier article that she no longer worked at Stonebridge.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620 Twitter: @fwstevans

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