PHA Not Liable for Employment Discrimination
Facts: A resident who was a construction worker sued the local PHA and a construction company that did work at the site for discrimination. The worker was employed by a roofing company that was a subcontractor for the construction company. He claimed that his hours were significantly reduced by the roofing company and that the PHA and the construction company were aware of this reduction and permitted it to continue. He also claimed that they violated Section 3 of the Housing and Development Act of 1968 by not providing priority employment opportunities for him and other low-income residents of the site.
The PHA and the construction company asked the court to dismiss the complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Ruling: An Illinois district court granted the PHA's request.
Reasoning: The court ruled that the resident couldn't sue under the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, because the law didn't create a federal right or private right of action. Agencies affected by the law were directed to “ensure that the employment and other economic opportunities generated by Federal financial assistance for housing and community development programs shall, to the greatest extent feasible, be directed toward low- and very low-income persons, particularly those who are recipients of government assistance for housing.” This language specifically avoids creating a mandatory obligation on the part of the agencies. In other words, the law doesn't create a right for low-income individuals to sue for the law's enforcement; instead, it seeks to encourage best efforts on the part of the housing programs.
Also, the court decided that the resident's complaints were too vague. In his complaint, the resident simply alleged that the PHA and the construction company were aware of reductions in his employment hours and did nothing to remedy this. He alleged that he was “treated differently” than other, similarly situated, white employees. But the resident didn't have evidence to show examples of racial disparities, but instead relied on his own “personal observations.”
Additionally, the resident didn't establish that either the construction company or the PHA intentionally discriminated against him on the basis of his race. Rather, according to the complaint, they were merely aware that he was being discriminated against. Since the resident couldn't show intentional discrimination, his discrimination claim failed.
- Miller v. Chicago Housing Authority, June 2012