In re Accusation of Department of Fair Employment and Housing, 121812 CAFEHC, H-201011-Q-0235-00-ph

Docket Nº:H-201011-Q-0235-00-ph, C11-12-048, 12-13
Opinion Judge:Caroline L. Hunt, Administrative Law Judge
Party Name:In the Matter of the Accusation of the DEPARTMENT OF FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING v. BERNARD BADILLA, Owner, Respondent. PROJECT SENTINEL, Complainant.
Case Date:December 18, 2012
Court:Fair Employment and Housing Commission of California
 
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In the Matter of the Accusation of the DEPARTMENT OF FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING

v.

BERNARD BADILLA, Owner, Respondent.

PROJECT SENTINEL, Complainant.

Nos. H-201011-Q-0235-00-ph, C11-12-048, 12-13

Fair Employment and Housing Commission of California

December 18, 2012

DECISION

Caroline L. Hunt, Administrative Law Judge

The Fair Employment and Housing Commission hereby adopts the attached Proposed Decision as the Commission's final decision in this matter.

Any party adversely affected by this decision may seek judicial review of the decision under Government Code sections 11523 and 12987.1, Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5, and California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 7437. Any petition for judicial review and related papers shall be served on the Department, respondent, and complainant.

Fair Employment and Housing Commission

Stuart Leviton

Chané e Franklin Minor

Dale Brodsky

Danielle Nava

PROPOSED DECISION

Administrative Law Judge Caroline L. Hunt heard this matter on behalf of the Fair Employment and Housing Commissionon September 11, 2012, in Oakland, California. Sami Hasan, Staff Counsel, and Roya Ladan, Graduate Legal Assistant, appeared on behalf of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Complainant Project Sentinel's Executive Director, Ann Marquart, was present throughout the hearing. Neither respondent Bernard Badilla nor anyone on his behalf appeared.

On December 7, 2012, after receipt of the hearing transcript, revised hearing transcript and the DFEH's post-hearing brief, the matter was deemed submitted.

After consideration of the entire record, the administrative law judge makes the following findings of fact, determination of issues, and order.

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. On May 19, 2011, complainant Project Sentinel signed and filed a written, verified complaint with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In its complaint, Project Sentinel alleged that Bernard Badilla, owner of a housing accommodation at 487 Mastick Avenue, San Bruno, California, was liable for discriminatory refusal to rent and failure to make reasonable accommodation for a prospective tenant. The complaint alleged that, in November 2010, in response to a rental advertisement on Craigslist.org, Project Sentinel conducted tests which suggested that respondent would have denied a rental opportunity and a reasonable accommodation to a disabled applicant with a service animal. The complaint further alleged that this conduct violated sections 804(a) or (f), and 804(f)(3)(B) of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Act of 1988. On June 20, 2011, the complaint was filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

2. The DFEH is an administrative agency empowered to issue accusations under Government Code section 12930, subdivision (h). On June 14, 2012, Phyllis W. Cheng, in her official capacity as Director of the DFEH, issued an accusation against respondent Bernard Badilla, owner of a house located at 487 Mastick Avenue, San Bruno, California. The accusation alleged that Badilla " advertised, maintained and enforced a discriminatory policy of advertising a studio unit to individuals in a manner that excluded persons with disabilities who needed a service animal.

3. In its accusation, the DFEH alleged that complainant Project Sentinel, after identifying respondent Badilla's alleged discriminatory rental policy during a review of online rental advertisements, conducted testing of Badilla's housing practices. Project Sentinel's Tester 1 posed as a single woman with a companion dog. The DFEH alleged that respondent told Tester 1 that he " just can't have a dog in [his] house, " even if it was a " service animal prescribed by a doctor." Tester 2 posed as a single woman with a three-year old child. The DFEH alleged that respondent told Tester 2 to " stop by and view the unit." The DFEH alleged that respondent's above-described conduct violated Government Code section 12955, subdivisions (a), (c), (d), and (k), of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (Gov. Code, § 12900 et seq.), and Civil Code sections 51 and 54.1, subdivision (b)(6)(A).

4. At all times relevant, respondent Badilla owned and occupied a house located at 487 Mastick Avenue, San Bruno, California. Badilla's house included a self-contained studio apartment, which Badilla rented out at times for extra income (the studio apartment). The studio apartment had its own kitchen, bathroom and a private entrance, separate from the main house, and qualified as a " housing accommodation, " of which Badilla was the " owner, " under Government Code section 12927, subdivisions (d), (e) and (f).

5. At all times relevant, complainant Project Sentinel was a non-profit organization, located in Redwood City, California, whose mission was to develop and promote fairness and equality in housing opportunities for all persons. Ann Marquart was Project Sentinel's Executive Director. Project Sentinel qualified as a " person" under Government Code section 12927, subdivisions (f) and (g).

6. Project Sentinel regularly conducted investigations, including reviews of advertisements for housing rentals, to identify discriminatory housing practices.

7. On...

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