Mason "For Sale By Owner" Advertising Violates Fair Housing and Civil Rights LawsContact: Vicki Levengood 517-241-7978Agency: Civil Rights
Lansing, MI —The Michigan Department of Civil Rights confirmed today that it has opened a complaint against James Prater of Mason, Michigan for discriminatory advertising in the sale of a home.
Posted on the lawn of Prater’s home is a “For Sale by Owner” sign and a separate sign that states “Terms, No Foreigners, Iraq Vet.” Advertising that includes discriminatory language like a statement excluding a protected class is a violation of both the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) and the federal Fair Housing Act. There is no exception that allows a private homeowner to discriminate in advertising the sale of their residence.
“For more than 40 years, state and federal laws have prohibited discrimination in advertising, and it is in the wider public interest to address it when it occurs,” said Agustin V. Arbulu, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. “When an ad like this goes unchallenged, it sends a message to the community that such ads are legal and accepted. Not only may it encourage others to use similarly discriminatory language in advertising, the perception that a community accepts discrimination of this sort discourages potential purchasers from considering other properties in the area.”
In the complaint, MDCR informs the Respondent that it will take whatever action is necessary to compel him to immediately remove advertising containing the discriminatory language and refrain from engaging in any other discriminatory advertising pertaining to the sale of his residence. Once Mr. Prater is in possession of the complaint, he will have seven days to respond with information he deems important for MDCR to consider.
If the Respondent fails to remove the sign, MDCR will file a formal charge of discrimination with an Administrative Law Judge within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
At every stage in a complaint process, MDCR attempts to communicate with Respondents and resolve issues of unlawful discrimination. If at any time the Respondent in this complaint removes the discriminatory advertising and agrees to abide by the law in the future, MDCR can settle the complaint or withdraw the charge.