For Immediate Release - December 18, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office Sues Property Management Company and its Employee for Discriminating Against Disabled Woman

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office filed a housing discrimination complaint against Natick-based Franchi Management, Inc. and Marsha Lenhoff, the assistant property manager of Babcock Tower, a residential apartment building located at 270 Babcock Street in Boston. The complaint, filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges that the defendants violated state anti-discrimination law by telling a woman with a disability that the management company would not provide services to people with disabilities.

"Persons with disabilities can and should have the same opportunity and access to housing as any other person in the state," said Attorney General Coakley. "Equal participation in housing, employment, education and other aspects of daily living is critical for the well being of every resident in the Commonwealth and the Attorney General's Office will continue to combat all forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities."

According to the complaint, the prospective tenant, who suffers from mobility impairments, viewed the apartment and asked whether the property management company could make alterations to the bathroom to work with her commode and install push button door openers to accommodate her disabilities. The employee for the property management company responded by telling her that it could not make the modification because the company does not accept tenants with disabilities.

Under Massachusetts law it is illegal to make any statement indicating a preference, limitation or discrimination against persons with disabilities.

The Attorney General's Office is seeking damages and costs in addition to an order requiring the defendants to receive fair housing training, adopt appropriate antidiscrimination policies, and refrain from further acts of discrimination.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Jeanne M. Veenstra of Attorney General Martha Coakley's Civil Rights Division.