Opening Acts: February 16, 2016

Disability Discrimination Case Settles for $950,000

Over 2,500 Rental Units to be Made More Accessible

On February 12, 2016, Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that a federal disability discrimination case had been resolved against Glenwood Management Corporation and Glenwood’s affiliate, Liberty Street Realty, LLC.   The complaint alleged that Glenwood had designed and constructed Liberty Plaza, a 287-unit development in lower Manhattan, with inaccessible features including high thresholds, insufficient maneuvering space in kitchens and bathrooms for wheelchair users, and bathrooms that did not permit the installation of grab bars.  The lawsuit alleged that Glenwood had engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination by failing to design and construct rental buildings in an accessible manner.  An investigation conducted by the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) in 2006 yielded evidence of noncompliance at Liberty Plaza and this information was provided to the Department of Justice for possible enforcement action.   This is the tenth case filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in response to information shared by the FHJC from its 2006 testing investigation. 

Under the settlement, Glenwood will make retrofits at three rental complexes in Manhattan — Liberty Plaza, Hawthorne Park, and The Sage — to make them more accessible to people with disabilities.  Glenwood also agreed to arrange for inspections of six additional rental properties and, where necessary, make retrofits at those properties as well.  Together, the nine buildings covered by the consent decree contain more than 2,500 rental units.  Glenwood will retain a Fair Housing Act consultant who will ensure that each residential building complies with federal accessibility requirements.  In addition, Glenwood agreed to institute policies and training to ensure that its employees and agents comply with federal accessibility requirements.  Finally, the settlement imposes a $50,000 civil penalty and establishes a settlement fund up to $900,000 to compensate aggrieved persons who may have been injured or discriminated against as a result of the lack of accessible features at properties constructed by Glenwood.  Individuals who believe they may be entitled to compensation may file a claim by contacting the Civil Rights Complaint Line at (212) 637-0840 or by using a Complaint Form available on the U.S. Attorney’s website at http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/civilrights.html. 

FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg welcomed the news of this settlement and commended U.S. Attorney Bharara and his Civil Rights Unit stating “It is important to note the vigorous manner in which the Office of the U.S. Attorney has enforced federal fair housing accessibility requirements and the excellent remedies that have been obtained in the cases filed to date.”