A lobby makeover is always a controversial undertaking for a co-op or condo board. The next time your board undertakes one, you might want to think twice about decorating with memorabilia from the Confederacy, Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan. That’s what Neal Milano, the manager and board member at a Sunnyside, Queens, condo did. Bad decorating choice.
The city’s Commission on Human Rights has reached a settlement with the condo board at 47-55 39th Place, which will require Milano and two other board members to step down, and for the offensive paraphernalia to come off the lobby walls, the Daily News reports. As part of the settlement, the condo will also have to update its house rules to comply with the city’s Human Rights Law – and remove a provision requiring tenants to prove their immigration status.
Despite the smackdown from the CHR, the condo is not out of the woods just yet. Two unit-owners, Lynn Calvacca and her husband Jerry Iannece, have filed a lawsuit against the condo board, claiming it implemented high fees and fines without properly incorporating them into the building’s bylaws. Calvacca said those changes should have been approved by two-thirds of all the owners, not just a vote by the board members. The lawsuit also claims Milano used the fines to retaliate against unit-owners. The condo board is still under investigation by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for potential state civil rights violations.
In addition to the offensive posters, residents had reported to the commission that Milano had harassed them based on their immigration status, national origin, and race. One tenant claimed that Milano had stopped her and her boyfriend, who is Puerto Rican, demanding to see his passport.
“We hope this settlement sends a strong message to housing providers citywide that New York City does not tolerate discrimination or harassment, and that we will not hesitate to take immediate action when we learn of violations,” said Sapna V. Raj, assistant commissioner for the law enforcement bureau at the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
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