Condo Association Settles Discrimination Complaint

When a South Jersey woman fell behind on her maintenance fees and her condominium association responded by revoking her privileges to certain amenities, she filed a discrimination complaint. The condo association is now expected to pay $10,000 in settlement of that complaint. (1)

Mary Lou Frisch was in arrears on her monthly maintenance fees since January of 2007. In November 2008, Mays Landing Village Condominium Association suspended Ms. Frisch’s rights to use certain common areas, including the parking lot – hence the problem. (2)

Ms. Frisch suffers from a debilitating lung disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. When she could no longer use the development’s parking lot, she had to park off premises and walk the distance between her car and her condo – sometimes close to a mile. Prior to losing her privileges, Ms. Frisch, who has a handicapped parking permit issued by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, used a handicapped space close to her unit. (2)

According to Ms. Frisch, the change in her parking arrangements aggravated her medical condition. She wrote a letter to the Association asking for reinstatement of her parking rights. The Association denied the request, so Ms. Frisch filed a complaint with the Division on Civil Rights claiming the Association was discriminating against her by not accommodating her illness. (1)

The Association cited its by-laws as evidence that it acted within its rights to revoke Ms. Frisch’s privileges, including voting and membership rights, access to the tennis courts, swimming pool and parking lot, among other things. The Division, however, ruled the Association failed to show that Ms. Frisch’s request was unreasonable or that allowing her to use the parking lot would cause the Association undue hardship. (1)

In settlement of the complaint, the Association has agreed to, among other things, pay Ms. Frisch $7,528; pay her maintenance fees in the amount of $2,472 for the next year; forgive Ms. Frisch’s outstanding maintenance fees estimated at somewhere between $12,000 and $15,000; and pay $5,000 in costs to the Division on Civil Rights. Additionally, the Association will allow the Division to monitor any requests for accommodation it receives over the next two years and have certain of its officers participate in training sessions on the State’s Law Against Discrimination. (1)

The Division on Civil Rights is the State agency responsible for looking into complaints of discrimination specifically in the areas of public accommodation, employment and housing. (3)

(1) http://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases11/pr20110601a.html
(2) http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/state/mays-landing-condo-association-found-to-have-discriminated-against-disabled-woman

(3) http://www.state.nj.us/lps/dcr/about.html