Lawsuit: random audit testing reveals potential racial discrimination

Housing discrimination at West Palm condo?

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Marketed as luxurious, resort-style living, South Tower CityPlace sits in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach.

Now, a federal lawsuit alleged racial discrimination against the operators of the 20-story condo building. 

"It's disturbing, people who believe they have the right to lie to Americans based on the color of their skin," said Vince Larkins.

Larkins runs the Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches, which conducts random audit testing at housing providers throughout the area. He says out of numerous tests, South Tower CityPlace was the only location found to be discriminating on the basis of race.

Larkins says in three tests during the last year, African-Americans were not helped when they showed interest in purchasing a property. 

"The black testers were told either no one was available to see them in two tests, or they couldn't be helped at the time, " said Larkins.

Larkins says white testers were helped by sales associates in further tests minutes later. 

The lawsuit also states the third and final time testers went in one hour apart from each other to see units within the $150,000-$350,000 price range. The African American was told only units in the $375,000+ range were available. The white tester was shown two units within the price range.

Tequisha Myles with Legal Aid of Palm Beach County says she isn't surprised. 

"A third of the places we test in a year requires some sort of follow up or a case comes out of it based on disability, familial, race or national origin discrimination," said Myles.

The owners and operators of South Tower CityPlace didn't return any of NewsChannel 5 phone calls.

Larkins hopes the lawsuit will bring a change in policy at the condominium.

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