The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement that resolves allegations that the owners and managers of a continuing care retirement community known as Sedgebrook violated the Fair Housing Act by instituting policies and maintaining practices that discriminated against residents with disabilities at the facility, which is located in Lincolnshire, Illinois.
The proposed settlement, which still must be approved by the court, was filed today, along with a complaint, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The complaint alleges that since 2011, Sedgebrook has instituted a series of policies that prohibited, and then limited, residents’ ability to dine in the communal dining rooms of the independent living wing of the facility if they required assistance eating due to a disability. Additionally, the complaint alleges that Sedgebrook maintained a policy prohibiting residents of the independent living wing from hiring live-in caregivers and refused to grant reasonable accommodations to that policy that would have allowed Sedgebrook residents with disabilities to use and enjoy their apartments.
Under the settlement, Sedgebrook will pay $210,000 into a settlement fund to compensate residents and family members who were harmed by these policies. Sedgebrook will also pay a $45,000 civil penalty to the United States. In addition, Sedgebrook will appoint a Fair Housing Act compliance officer and will implement a new dining and events policy, a new policy applicable to residents’ private employment of caregivers, and a new reasonable accommodation policy. Additionally, Life Care Services LLC, the company that manages Sedgebrook and is a named defendant in the lawsuit, will take steps to implement similar policies at the over 100 independent living and continuing care retirement communities it owns or manages across the country.
“This consent order will ensure that all residents with disabilities at Sedgebrook are treated equally and that residents are able to get the assistance they need in the dining room and in the other central areas of their lives,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “We are very pleased with the steps Life Care Services and Sedgebrook are taking to embrace new, non-discriminatory policies and help make them the standard, industry-wide.”
“Equal opportunities must be afforded to individuals who require assistance due to a disability,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois. “The proposed settlement represents a significant step towards ensuring all members of the Sedgebrook community are treated justly.”
Individuals who are entitled to share in the settlement fund will be identified through a process established in the consent order. Persons who believe they were subjected to unlawful discrimination at Sedgebrook should contact the Justice Department toll-free at 1-800-896-7743 mailbox #995, or e-mail the Justice Department at email@example.com (link sends e-mail).
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743 and leave a message at mailbox #995, e-mail the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail), or contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.