By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
A New York State racial discrimination case was recently settled for a mere $9,000.
Homeowner Linda Abraham had filed a formal complaint against her homeowners association (Patio Homes – the Kiamesha Shore Property Owners Association), alleging selective enforcement based upon the fact that Abraham is a black woman.
Abraham says that while the HOA allowed other homeowners to rent their homes during the first two years of ownership, she received $25 per day fines, and ultimately had an $8000 lien filed against the property.
After NY State Division of Human Rights investigated the complaint and gathered some evidence unfavorable to the HOA, the Association backed down and agreed to settle with Abraham.
However, the settlement requires Abraham not to discuss the details of her case with others – the typical HOA gag order.
$9K settlement in Sullivan racial discrimination complaint
Unfortunately that gag order makes it impossible for fellow owners or future buyers to know that an HOA has had formal complaints filed against them.
And although an HOA board will rarely admit wrongdoing, it is interesting to see how quick they are to settle after the investigation occurs. Discrimination lawsuits are notoriously expensive, so if a relatively small settlement can make the complaint go away – as it has in the Sullivan case – the HOA will usually pay off the aggrieved homeowner.