Settlement in Housing Discrimination Lawsuit

Paul and Tenisha Austin, an African American couple in Marin City, California, settled a housing discrimination lawsuit against their real estate appraiser, Janette Miller. They accused her of undervaluing their home based on race. The settlement includes an undisclosed sum and requires Miller to attend training on segregation history and real estate discrimination in Marin County, as well as watch a documentary on discriminatory practices in the appraisal industry.

Impact of Racial Discrimination in Performance Appraisals

Racial discrimination in performance appraisals is a serious issue that can significantly impact an individual’s career and earning potential. Research has shown that Black employees often receive lower appraisals than their white counterparts, even when their job performance is similar or superior. Lower appraisals may lead to denied promotions, lower salaries, and reduced career advancement opportunities. Unfair evaluations can also create hostile work environments and lower employee morale.

The Austins’ Goal to Change Appraisal Practices

Black and Latino homeowners are about twice as likely as white homeowners to receive low appraisals. In 2018, 85% of appraisers in the US were white. The Austins sought to change how Black and Latino-owned properties are appraised.

The Austin’s Experience with Low Appraisals

In 2016, the couple bought a $550,000 house in Marin City and later made significant upgrades. They sought to refinance their mortgage, but Miller’s appraisal came in much lower than a previous valuation. They requested a different appraiser, removed items indicating a Black family lived there, and had a white friend present during the appraisal. The new appraisal came in nearly half a million dollars higher than Miller’s.

Addressing Racial Discrimination in Appraisals