Case: United States v. Charter Realty Company

2:73-cv-00196 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

Filed Date: May 14, 1973

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This is a case about racial discrimination perpetuated by a Virginia real estate company. On May 14, 1973, the United States Department of Justice filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The plaintiff sued the Charter Realty Company under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (FHA) (42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.). The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was engaged in a pattern and practice of denying Fair Housing rights by failing to provide Black people with the…

This is a case about racial discrimination perpetuated by a Virginia real estate company.

On May 14, 1973, the United States Department of Justice filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The plaintiff sued the Charter Realty Company under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (FHA) (42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.). The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was engaged in a pattern and practice of denying Fair Housing rights by failing to provide Black people with the same level of real estate brokerage services provided to white people. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant would show Black prospective buyers listings in neighborhoods that were predominantly black or "racially changing"; for white prospective buyers, the defendant would show listings in predominantly white neighborhoods. This included making certain listings unavailable based on the prospective buyer's race. The defendant would also induce white homeowners to sell by telling them that Black people would be potentially moving into their neighborhoods.

Because the defendant expressed a willingness to cooperate, the plaintiff agreed not to pursue litigation to determine whether the defendant had engaged in discriminatory conduct in the past. Instead, the court approved a consent decree on May 14, 1973 (the day the complaint was filed). The consent decree included a permanent injunction, a new program for the defendant to comply with the FHA, and reporting instructions.

In the permanent injunction, the defendant was enjoined from doing any of the following on account of race, color, religion, or national origin:

  1. Refusing to show, sell, or rent a dwelling;
  2. Making a dwelling unavailable;
  3. Failing to provide information about a dwelling in a predominantly white neighborhood;
  4. Discriminating in the terms and conditions of sale or rental services, including financing;
  5. Steering a prospective buyer toward a particular neighborhood;
  6. Inducing a person to sell because of people who might be moving into the neighborhood; and
  7. Failing to conduct solicitation efforts in a similar manner for all areas.

The decree also enjoined the defendant from advertising any discriminatory preference and falsely representing a dwelling as unavailable for inspection.

In addition to refraining from the above behavior, the defendant agreed to create an educational program for sales personnel within 30 days of the consent decree. It also agreed to implement a new program of compliance that included informing the public, customers, and clients of its nondiscrimination policy and developing guidelines to make sure all prospective buyers would be informed about available properties.

The consent decree also required the defendant to file reports with the court. After the first 30 days, the defendant would report on the preliminary steps it took to implement the decree. After 90 days, the defendant would file a report every three months for the next two years, detailing items such as Equal Housing Opportunity Forms, employee personnel changes, listings, prospective buyers, homeowners with listings managed by the defendant, homeowners who refused to give listings to the defendant because of the defendant's antidiscrimination policy, and financial institutions that refused to give a mortgage to a black person buying a home in a predominantly white area. The defendant would include information about individuals' races and racial compositions of neighborhoods.

The defendant was permitted to keep racial records for complying with the decree, and the plaintiff could inspect records related to sales and rentals. The defendant could move to dissolve the decree after two years.

The consent decree is the only document available for this case, so no other information is known. The case has presumably finished.

Summary Authors

Lauren Yu (3/18/2021)

People


Judge(s)

Kellam, Richard Boykin (Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Schwelb, Frank E. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Murphy, James A. Jr. (Virginia)

Judge(s)

Kellam, Richard Boykin (Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Schwelb, Frank E. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Murphy, James A. Jr. (Virginia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Consent Decree

May 14, 1973 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Virginia

Case Type(s):

Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance

Key Dates

Filing Date: May 14, 1973

Case Ongoing: No reason to think so

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

The United States Department of Justice.

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Charter Realty Corporation (Norfolk, Norfolk), Private Entity/Person

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Fair Housing Act/Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.

Availably Documents:

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1973 - 1975

Content of Injunction:

Comply with advertising/recruiting requirements

Develop anti-discrimination policy

Discrimination Prohibition

Provide antidiscrimination training

Recordkeeping

Reporting

Training

Issues

General:

Disparate Treatment

Housing

Pattern or Practice

Discrimination-area:

Housing Sales/Rental

Steering

Discrimination-basis:

National origin discrimination

Race discrimination

Religion discrimination

Race:

Black