WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK), the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska and employees of UNK for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against students with disabilities.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Nebraska, charges that UNK and its employees engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the Fair Housing Act or denied rights protected by the act by denying reasonable accommodation requests by students with psychological or emotional disabilities seeking to live with emotional assistance animals in university housing. The suit also charges that UNK requires students with psychological disabilities to disclose sensitive medical and other information that is unnecessary to evaluate their accommodation requests. This lawsuit arose as a result of a complaint filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by a student enrolled at UNK who sought to live with an emotional assistance dog that had been prescribed.
“The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to give reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities so that all have equal housing opportunities. The Fair Housing Act also ensures that when people seek an accommodation, they are not required to disclose medical information that is overly intrusive and invasive in order to receive an accommodation,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue its vigorous enforcement of fair housing laws that protect the rights of people with psychological or emotional disabilities so that they will have full opportunity to find housing as the law requires.”
The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination by the defendants, monetary damages for those harmed by the defendants’ actions, and a civil penalty. Any individuals who have information relevant to this case are urged to contact the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the Civil Rights Division at 1-800-896-7743, ext. 92.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt . Individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department firstname.lastname@example.org , or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.
The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct. The allegations must still be proven in federal court.