Monday, February 23, 2009

Justice Department Settles RLUIPA/ Housing Suit With Nashville, TN

The current issue of Religious Freedom In Focus (the newsletter of Justice Department's Civil Rights Division) announces the recent settlement of the Justice Department's civil rights suit against Nashville (TN) that alleged both disability and religious discrimination. The lawsuit claimed violations of the Fair Housing Act and of RLUIPA in Nashville's denial of zoning approval for a residential treatment center to Teen Challenge, a Christian substance abuse program. The consent decree in United States v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee, (MD TN, Feb. 5, 2009), among other things requires Nashville to appoint an FHA and RLUIPA Compliance Officer. It also requires Nashville to give fair housing and RLUIPA training to various of its employees. Nashville will pay a $20,000 civil penalty and damages of $50,000 to individual plaintiffs. Teen Challenge itself has already won a significant jury verdict in the case. (See prior posting.)