Most discrimination lawsuits involve allegations against an individual or a company. This may include claims of discriminatory hiring practices, retaliation for reporting illegal discrimination, or a supervisor treating protected groups differently. However, in a recent lawsuit filed by the Justice Department, the village of Tinley Park is facing allegations of discrimination.
Tinley Park is a community of about 57,000 people located southwest of Chicago. It is one of the fastest growing suburbs and was selected by BusinessWeek magazine as one best places in the country to raise a family.
However, according to a federal lawsuit, the village is in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Plans for a new 47-unit apartment building for low-income residents have been on hold since February. The property, known as The Reserve, has been the subject of public opposition, at times with individuals making racial remarks related to the type of people who would occupy the property.
The developer behind the project, Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, said the project was in compliance with Tinley Park's zoning requirements, and the project should have been approved months ago. They sued the village in April. Since then, the Justice Department filed a separate action alleging FHA violations.
According to U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon, their office is committed to fighting discrimination in public accommodations, including fair housing. “Where appropriate,” Fardon said, “we will pursue local governments that try to reduce affordable housing opportunities for discriminatory purposes.”
Village officials dispute the claims. Tinley Park Mayor Dave Seaman says the DOJ's lawsuit portrays the community as something it is not. “We don't believe we have done anything that's discriminatory in nature,” said Seaman. “We fully cooperated with the DOJ and have given them thousands of documents. Any decisions around the planning area were not in any way, shape or form based on race or any other inappropriate considerations.”
Other residents were outraged that they were being accused of discrimination. Some resident spoke up about how the village opened up to find places to stay for almost 100 people who were made homeless following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Instead, residents say their objections to the project are based on other considerations and not on race. Tinley Park Manager Dave Niemeyer, released a statement on the issue. “The Village continues to object to the use of taxpayer dollars on this issue, but is prepared to defend its actions through further court proceedings if necessary.”
So far, the village has spent over $129,000 on legal costs associated with the lawsuit over this project. Now the village will be facing the lawsuit filed by the company behind the project as well as the DOJ's case.
If you have been discriminated against it is important to speak out so that this kind of mistreatment does not go on to affect others. If a property owner or supervisor is discriminating against you, they may be doing the same thing to others. Speak with an experienced discrimination attorney who understands your rights and will fight to protect your job. At Benassi & Benassi, we are committed to getting our clients and their families the justice they deserve.