The federal government is suing an East Texas R.V. park and its owner after they allegedly evicted a transgender tenant. According to the lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted their own investigation and charged the R.V. park with discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
In a lawsuit filed this month, the United States of America alleges that Texan R.V. park in Athens used "illegal discriminatory housing practices."
According to the lawsuit, the park came under new ownership in May of 2012. It's then, the lawsuit states, that a transgender tenant named Roxanne Joganik approached the new owner asking if she could wear female clothing in common areas of the park. The lawsuit says that request was denied and Joganik was told she "would have to keep wearing her female clothing only inside of her R.V."
The lawsuit states that later that month, Joganik was asked to sign new park rules agreeing that "management reserves the right to refuse entrance to the R.V. park to any person for any reason other than reasons based on race, religion, handicapped, color or national origin."
The lawsuit says the rules did not include "sex" or "familial status" which are protected classes under the Fair Housing Act.
According to the lawsuit, when Joganik requested that the rules protect against sex discrimination, too, her request was denied and weeks later Joganik and her roommate were told to vacate the park immediately.
The lawsuit states that Joganik and her roommate did not leave, but the park refused to accept their next month's rent check and eventually had they were forced to leave after a Henderson County eviction proceeding.
According to the lawsuit, the women field complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The department's investigation "determined that reasonable cause existed to believe that illegal discriminatory housing practices occurred because of sex."
The housing and urban development offices were not available Wednesday for comment due to the government shutdown.
"I will not be able to check this voicemail box during the shutdown. Please feel free to leave me a message or call me again when the federal government reopens," says the recording left on a machine at HUD's Ft. Worth office.
The women that were evicted say they have been advised not to comment on the dispute because of the pending lawsuit. When we stopped by Texan R.V. park Wednesday for comment, we were told the owner would be out of town until Monday.
Monday, July 21 2014 11:41 AM EDT2014-07-21 15:41:34 GMT
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