In re Accusation of Department of Fair Employment and Housing, 012710 CAFEHC, H200708-Q-0028-03
|Docket Nº:||H200708-Q-0028-03, C 08-09-005, 10-01-P|
|Party Name:||In the Matter of the Accusation of the DEPARTMENT OF FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING v. JEANNETTE PRICHARD, as Owner and Managing Agent, Respondent. MICHELLE ENGLISH, individually and as Guardian Ad Litem for KOREN ENGLISH, a minor; and KIMBERLY ENGLISH, a minor, Complainants.|
|Case Date:||January 27, 2010|
|Court:||Fair Employment and Housing Commission of California|
Administrative Law Judge Joseph A. Ragazzo heard this matter on behalf of the Fair Employment and Housing Commission on February 4, 2009 in Lakeport, California. Staff Counsel Jason R. Cale represented the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Respondent Jeannette Prichard appeared in pro per .
The Commission received the hearing transcript on February 19, 2009. The DFEH's post-hearing brief was received on March 20, 2009, and the case was deemed submitted on that date. Judge Ragazzo issued his proposed decision on April 10, 2009.
On April 16, 2009, the Commission decided not to adopt the proposed decision and notified the parties of the opportunity to file further argument. On May 11, 2009, the Commission invited the California Apartment Association to file an amicus brief addressing the issues raised in this case and extended the time for the parties and amici to file further argument. Both the DFEH's further argument brief and the California Apartment Association's amicus brief were timely received on June 22, 2009.
On June 25, 2009, the Commission took official notice that respondent Jeannette Prichard had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Commission requested further briefing from the DFEH to address the legal effect of respondent's bankruptcy filing and to respond to issues raised in the amicus brief. On July 13, 2009, the DFEH's reply brief was received.
After consideration of the entire record, the Commission makes the following findings of fact, determination of issues, and order.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. On May 23, 2008, Michelle English (" English" or " complainant" ), individually and on behalf of her two minor children Koren and Kimberly English, filed three written, verified complaints with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) against David and Mary Danchuk, Anna Girod, and AGM Property Management. English's complaints alleged that, on or about June 17, 2007, she and her children were denied rental of a single family home on the basis of familial status, in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (Gov. Code, § 12900 et seq.) (" FEHA" ).
2. On June 11, 2008, English individually and on behalf of her minor children Koren and Kimberly English, filed an additional written, verified complaint with the DFEH against Jeanette [ sic ] Prichard. English's complaint against Prichard also alleged that, on or about June 17, 2007, she and her children were denied rental of a single family home because of familial status, in violation of the FEHA.
3. The DFEH is an administrative agency empowered to issue accusations under Government Code section 12930, subdivision (h). On July 31, 2008, Phyllis W. Cheng, in her official capacity as Director of the DFEH, issued an accusation against David Danchuk, Mary Danchuk, AGM Property Management, Anna Girod, and Jeanette [ sic ] Prichard. The accusation alleged that all five named parties were jointly and severally liable for violating Government Code section 12955, subdivisions (a), (c), (g) and (k). Specifically, the accusation alleged that the parties violated the FEHA by refusing to rent a housing accommodation to English and her children on the basis of familial status; by making statements of preference or an intention to discriminate because of complainant's familial status; by aiding and abetting discriminatory housing practices; and by otherwise denying or making unavailable a dwelling because of complainant's familial status.
4. On or about August 19, 2008, respondents AGM Property Management and Anna Girod, through their attorney Gregory Schrader, Esq., filed a Notice of Transfer of Proceedings to Court.
5. On or about August 20, 2008, respondents David Danchuk and Mary Danchuk, through their attorney Timothy J. Hannan, Esq., filed a Notice of Transfer of Proceedings to Court. The DFEH proceeded with this administrative case against Prichard, as the sole respondent before the Commission.
6. On September 26, 2008, the DFEH issued a First Amended Accusation alleging that Jeanette [ sic ] Prichard 1 (" Prichard" or " respondent" ), as owner and managing agent, violated Government Code section 12955, subdivisions (a), (c), (g) and (k). The accusation realleged that respondent violated the FEHA as detailed in the original July 31, 2008 accusation.
7. At all times relevant to this matter, the real property at issue was a two bedroom house for rent located at 108 North Marina Drive, Lakeport, California. (" Marina Drive" ). Marina Drive was a " housing accommodation" within the meaning of Government Code section 12927, subdivision (d), and 12955, subdivisions (a) and (c), and a " dwelling" within the meaning of Government Code section 12955, subdivision (d).
8. At all times relevant to this matter, Marina Drive was owned by David Danchuk and Mary Danchuk (" the Danchuks" ), and was managed by AGM Property Management (" AGM" ), located in Lakeport, California. AGM is owned and operated by Anna Girod (" Girod" ).
9. Beginning in April, 2007, Prichard was employed at AGM as an associate " trainee" for approximately three months. She reported directly to Girod. Her duties at AGM included processing rental applications, conducting background checks on prospective renters, coordinating maintenance on rental properties, and conducting property inspections. Prichard was a " person" within the meaning of Government Code sections 12927, subdivision (f), and 12955, subdivision (c).
10. In June 2007, English lived in a two bedroom rental apartment on Royale Avenue in Lakeport, California, with her minor twin daughters Koren and Kimberly. English wanted to move her family to a larger and more desirable home.
11. Sometime in early June 2007, English drove by Marina Drive and observed a " For Rent" sign on the property. She called the AGM telephone number listed on the sign and drove to the AGM offices with her two daughters. At AGM, English spoke to Prichard about renting Marina Drive, obtained the keys to the rental, and then drove back to Marina Drive with her daughters to inspect the rental property.
12. On or about June 6, 2007, English submitted her two-page application for Marina Drive to Prichard and paid $20.00 to AGM for a nonrefundable screening fee. On the application, English indicated that Marina Drive was for herself and her two daughters. English also disclosed her employment, credit, and residence history, and submitted the names of personal references on the rental application form.
13. The rent for Marina Drive was $995.00 per month. When English submitted her application to AGM, Marina Drive was available for rent.
14. AGM had written guidelines which accompanied its rental applications. The qualifying criteria for renting property managed by AGM included the following: " applicant's current and previous rental references are in good standing; applicant's verifiable income must meet or exceed 2 1/2 times the monthly rent; and applicant's credit report must meet our guidelines, unless a satisfactory explanation in writing can be provided."
15. On or about June 14, 2007, Prichard performed a background check on English. After running her credit report and contacting her landlord and employer, Prichard prepared an AGM applicant report. Prichard's report noted that English had a history of promptly paying her rent, verified English's $2,500.00 monthly income at the U.S. Postal Service, and indicated that English's credit report had an acceptable credit score of 635. Under AGM's guidelines, English qualified to rent Marina Drive.
16. Prichard subsequently placed a post-it note on English's rental application file on which she had written the following: " This applicant has eight-year-old twin daughters who are very high energy and rambunctious. She wants 108 North Marina, but I understand that Westlake is not a great kid place - should I steer her to another property, and if so, how do I do that?" Just below Prichard's hand-written note was a hand-written reply prepared by Girod. It stated: " Must find another home as per owner."
17. On or about June 17, 2007, Prichard informed English, by telephone, that she could not rent the Marina Drive house because " the owner is not interested in [renting to] children" or words to that effect. Prichard then directed her to another rental located in Kelseyville, the next town south of Lakeport.
18. After English was told she could not rent Marina Drive, she remained at the Royale Avenue apartment until approximately September 2008, when she and her two daughters moved into her parents' home in Lakeport.
DETERMINATION OF ISSUES
The DFEH asserts that respondent is liable for unlawful housing discrimination in violation of Government Code section...
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