EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Two senior living facilities have settled a lawsuit from the Department of Justice (D.O.J.) for allegedly discriminating against a resident and her son.

According to The U.S. Attorneys Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Asbury Communities, Inc. and Albright Care Services, who operate eight continuing care retirement communities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Tennessee, agreed to pay $215,000 in order to resolve a “Fair Housing Act” lawsuit filed by the D.O.J.

U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam says the complaint reads Asbury Communites Inc. and Albright Care Services discriminated against a resident of Asbury RiverWoods in Lewisburg, Union County, and her son by not approving the residents’ request that her son be allowed to stay in her apartment as her live-in aide during the COVID pandemic to assist her with daily living activities.

Officials say because of her disability, the resident, who is now dead, required a live-in aide to help her with everyday activities such as groceries, cooking, cleaning, and taking her
physician-prescribed medications.

According to law enforcement, during the weekend of March 15, 2020, management told the resident and her son, he would not be able to continue to stay with his mother because the senior living community, including the independent living apartments, was going into lockdown.

U.S. officials say despite threats to evict his mother from the apartment and calls for him to vacate the property, the resident’s son stayed in the apartment and cared for his
mother during the pandemic until they both moved out of the apartment in July 2022.

No housing provider, especially those housing our senior citizens, can discriminate
against residents because of their disabilities. Those who operate senior living communities must recognize that their residents have the right to reasonable accommodations, which allow them to continue to live independently. This office maintains its commitment to ensuring those with disabilities are not discriminated against by housing providers, public accommodations, or local governments.”

U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam

According to U.S. officials, the consent order resolving the lawsuit was approved by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on Wednesday as the case was a result of a complaint filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by the resident and her son.

HUD investigated the complaint, issued a charge of discrimination, and referred the complaint to the D.O.J.

“Denying a tenant residing in a retirement community a reasonable accommodation
during the COVID-19 pandemic is particularly egregious. HUD’s investigation, a charge of discrimination, and subsequent referral to the United States Attorney’s Office demonstrate HUD’s commitment to work with trusted partners to vigorously enforce fair housing laws,” explained Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Demetria L. McCain of HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

Under the consent order, the defendants must pay $215,000 to the estate of the resident
and her son. The consent order also requires defendants to take actions to prevent future
unlawful discrimination at all eight of its properties, including complying with the Fair Housing
Act, undergoing training on the Fair Housing Act, implementing a new reasonable
accommodation policy, and complying with reporting requirements.

More information can be found online about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces.

Residents can report housing discrimination by calling the Justice Department at 1-833-591-0291, by email at fairhousing@usdoj.gov, or by submitting an online report.

Individuals may also report discrimination by contacting HUD at 1-800-669-9777, or by filing a complaint online.

Anyone in the Middle District of Pennsylvania may also report civil rights violations to the Civil Rights Coordinator of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania by calling 717-614-4911 or emailing usapam.civil.rights@usdoj.gov.