ERC AND ALVIN AUBINOE RESOLVE ALLEGATIONS OF RACE-BASED DISCRIMINATION IN ONLINE APPLICATION

COOPERATION AGREEMENT WILL PROMOTE FAIR HOUSING PROTECTIONS IN ONLINE MARKETING

Washington, D.C. November 17th, 2020 — Today, the Equal Rights Center (“ERC”) announced it entered into a cooperation agreement with Alvin L. Aubinoe Inc., a real estate management company operating in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area. The agreement resolves a complaint brought to the Equal Rights Center from an individual attempting to apply to rent an apartment at an Aubinoe property.

In December 2018, the ERC was contacted by an individual who had planned to apply for an apartment at Chevy Chase Towers, which is owned by Alvin L. Aubinoe, Inc. The company’s online application included a question, “How did you hear about us?” At three properties, including Chevy Chase Towers, one of the listed response options was “KKK.”

The ERC reported this language to Aubinoe because it believed that such language could cause significant fear among potential applicants of color, particularly African American applicants. Aubinoe maintains it was unaware of this language appearing as a potential referral source. Therefore, after the ERC reached out on behalf of its client, Aubinoe removed the offensive language from its response option. Aubinoe responded that the inclusion of this language was in error, unintentional, and appeared to be the result of third party conduct. Aubinoe affirms that it has a no tolerance discrimination policy and strives to provide a welcoming environment in all of its communities.

Although Aubinoe denies any involvement or knowledge of how these letters appeared on its website, it nonetheless agreed to take steps to ensure that such an incident cannot happen again and that all applicants feel welcome. The steps taken by Aubinoe include:

  • Instructing any website design or marketing company it retains to comply with Aubinoe’s fair housing policies, which includes a prohibition on publishing discriminatory language;
  • Publicizing the company’s fair housing policy and identifying the appropriate point of contact for any fair housing concerns on its website;
  • Attending fair housing training; and
  • Advertising that “All are welcomed” in its promotional materials.

The cooperation agreement is available here.

Kate Scott, ERC Executive Director stated “No one should ever feel unsafe or undesirable as a tenant due to their race. We’re pleased that Aubinoe has agreed to take steps to address the concerns we and our client raised.”

If you believe you may have experienced discrimination in housing, you can contact the Equal Rights Center. To report your experience, please call 202-234-3062 or email info@equalrightscenter.org.

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