A Florida realtor who says she has been discriminated against in her dealings with prospective homebuyers says she will be filing a federal lawsuit against the state’s real estate board, alleging she was unfairly denied housing on account of her race and gender.
Rebecca Smith said she was rejected from multiple offers to buy a two-bedroom home in Palm Beach County by a real estate agent because of her skin color and gender, and that she had to cancel the offer after her name was attached to the documents submitted for the home, including a contract, court documents show.
Smith said she decided to file the suit in federal court because she believed the agency violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection of the laws, the lawsuit states.
“The commission is not obligated to abide by its own policies and practices,” the suit states.
“It is not mandated to act in the best interest of the community.”
Smith said the Florida Real Estate Commission (FRECOM) has refused to honor her offers to purchase two homes in Palm beach County, saying she is an African American woman and the property is worth $1.2 million, according to the lawsuit.
The commission has declined to comment.
In the lawsuit, Smith said the agency told her she could not rent a single room because she was “a member of the homeless population,” the Miami Herald reported.
She said the agent told her, “You can rent a room if you want, but you will not be renting that room to anyone other than yourself.”
She said she later found out the agent had been terminated after an investigation and that the real estate agency refused to accept her complaints about the housing discrimination.
“It was a huge blow to my whole life,” Smith said in the lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Orlando.
The lawsuit claims the realtor violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by denying her service and discrimination based on race, gender, disability, and sexual orientation.
The Florida Realty Commission, which handles all commercial and residential real estate in the state, has received more than 1.5 million complaints of discrimination since 2011.
The agency declined to respond to a request for comment.
The Equal Protection clause of the U.N. Charter guarantees equal treatment for all people regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender identity or expression, or age, according the Fair Housing Act of 1968.