For Immediate Release - December 16, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office Obtains Consent Judgment Against Property Management Company for Alleged Discrimination Against a Foster Parent

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office obtained a consent judgment against Cornerstone Corporation (Cornerstone), a Massachusetts property management company, and its former manager, Linda Evans, resolving allegations that they violated state anti-discrimination laws by falsely accusing a foster parent of operating a day-care business out of her home and subsequently trying to evict her. The consent judgment, entered by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Linda Giles, orders Cornerstone and Evans to pay the Commonwealth $15,000, of which $10,000 is suspended pending the defendants' compliance with the terms of the consent judgment. The consent judgment bars defendants from discriminating in the future, requires all employees to receive training on state and federal fair housing laws, and requires Cornerstone to adopt comprehensive non-discrimination policies. The defendants will make payment of $30,864.08 to the victim under the terms of a separate agreement entered into by defendants.

"It is a violation of state and federal law to discriminate against foster parents or anyone else based on the composition of one's family," said Attorney General Coakley. "Foster parents serve a critical need in providing and supporting the care, welfare, and safety of children across the Commonwealth."

Cornerstone manages Roxse Homes, a 346 unit residential housing development in Boston. According to the Commonwealth's complaint filed July 24, 2009, the tenant had been a licensed foster parent in Massachusetts since 1991 and had lived in Roxse Homes with her family since 2006. The Commonwealth alleged that despite knowing the tenant was a licensed foster parent, Cornerstone and Evans falsely accused her of operating a day-care center out of her apartment and twice threatened to evict the tenant and her family unless she ceased such activity.

Under state and federal law, it is illegal to discriminate against a person based on his or her familial status, which can include foster parent relationships.

The consent judgment also requires defendants to acknowledge that being a foster parent does not constitute operating a day-care business and to conduct a thorough and documented factual investigation prior to accusing a resident of violating a lease provision.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Alan Jay Rom of Attorney General Coakley's Civil Rights Division.