For Immediate Release - February 25, 2011

Judgment Obtained by AG Coakley's Office Against Property Management Company and Employee for Alleged Discrimination Against Disabled Woman

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office obtained a consent judgment against Natick-based Franchi Management Company, Inc. and Marsha Lenhoff, the assistant property manager of Babcock Tower, a residential apartment building in Boston.

The consent judgment, entered Wednesday by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Merita A. Hopkins, resolves allegations 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.

According to the complaint filed in December 2009, the prospective tenant, who suffers from mobility impairments, viewed the apartment and asked whether the property management company could make alterations to the bathroom and install push button door openers to accommodate her disabilities. The employee for the property management company responded by telling the prospective tenant 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.

"Persons with disabilities need to have the same opportunity and access to housing as any person," said AG Coakley. "Equal and fair treatment in housing, employment, education and other aspects of daily living is critical for every resident in the Commonwealth and our office will continue to combat all forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities."

The settlement provides for a broad range of relief including that the defendants refrain from acts of discrimination, train employees on fair housing, adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination policies and procedures, and report all discrimination complaints to the Attorney General's Office.

As an advocate for victim and consumer rights, Attorney General Coakley's office works to ensure that the civil rights and liberties of visitors and residents of the Commonwealth are preserved and protected. Under federal and state fair housing laws, it is illegal to discriminate against an individual or a family seeking housing because of a person's race, color, religion, sex, familial status (e.g. children or marital status), national origin, or handicap/disability. These laws also prohibit discrimination in advertising, public housing, and actions taken by realtors, landlords, mortgage lenders and brokers.

This matter was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Jeanne M. Veenstra and Bethany Brown of AG Coakley's Civil Rights Division with the assistance of investigator Jennifer Chaves.