In a significant move against housing discrimination, Attorney General Michelle Henry announced a $90,000 settlement against Shippensburg landlords John Timothy Gruver and Bonnie Gruver, their family, and Ridgway Real Estate, Your Content has learned.
The settlement was reached before the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) for allegedly discriminating against a Black family, attempting to block their move-in, and harassing them at the property.
The complaint was filed in May 2020 by a Black woman who alleged that her lease was revoked shortly before the move-in date due to her race and concerns related to her grandchild’s legal history. The landlords’ family members, who lived next door, allegedly racially harassed her and used a racial slur. The case was handled by the Office of Attorney General’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section and the PHRC.
Attorney General Henry stated, “Housing discrimination prevents families from accessing a basic necessity a comfortable, secure place to live and has no place in the Commonwealth.”
Chad Dion Lassiter, Executive Director of the PHRC, added, “The PHRC is committed to fairly and impartially investigating complaints on behalf of complainants and respondents alike, and I applaud the AG’s office, the PHRC’s staff, and the respondents in this case for arriving at this resolution. Discrimination in all forms is not tolerated in Pennsylvania.”
In addition to the monetary settlement, the Gruvers and Ridgway Real Estate are required to receive fair housing training provided by the PHRC and adhere to new fair housing policies. The PHRC found probable cause to credit the allegations, and after initial conciliation talks failed, the matter was successfully conciliated prior to a hearing. The Commission approved the conciliation agreement and entered it as a Final Order on July 24, 2023.
This settlement marks a significant step in the fight against racial discrimination in housing in Pennsylvania. It sends a clear message that unfair screening methods and harassment will not be tolerated, and offenders will be held accountable under fair housing laws. The case also highlights the importance of collaboration between different legal entities in addressing such serious issues, according to the Pennsylvania Attorney General Office.