For Immediate Release - August 24, 2011

Worcester Landlord Settles Allegations of Failing to Address Known Racial Discrimination

WORCESTER - A Worcester landlord has agreed to settle claims that he failed to respond to an African American tenant family's claim of racial discrimination, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office announced today.

The settlement agreement, filed in Suffolk Superior Court today, alleges that Emile Akpaki violated state anti-discrimination laws by failing to take action against other tenants in the same building who allegedly threatened, harassed and made racially discriminatory statements toward the family.

According to the family's complaint to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), their upstairs neighbors repeatedly used racial slurs towards them and threatened them with physical assault. The complaint alleged that the family reported these behaviors to Akpaki on several occasions, but Akpaki did nothing to prevent the behavior from continuing. Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce the doing of any of the acts forbidden by the Massachusetts Antidiscrimination Statute. Landlords in Massachusetts have an obligation to ensure that tenants live in housing free from acts of discriminatory conduct and must take action to address discriminatory acts caused by other tenants.

In compliance with the settlement, Akpaki has already completed training on federal and Massachusetts fair housing law through MCAD. The other terms of the settlement require that Akpaki include "Equal Housing Opportunity" notifications in any rental advertisements for the next three years; notify the Attorney General's Civil Rights Division of any discrimination complaints made against him in the next three years; keep records for the next three years of all advertisements placed and all applications from prospective tenants; and pay $2,000 to the family, with an additional $2,500 payment to the Commonwealth suspended providing Akpaki continues to comply with the terms of the settlement.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Kiernan Joliat of Attorney General Coakley's Central Massachusetts Regional Office.