D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine scored a major civil rights victory recently when his office reached a settlement with a window company over allegations of discrimination against residents in certain District zip codes.
On Aug. 21, Racine announced the settlement and stressed that no form of bigotry will be tolerated in the city.
“The Office of the Attorney General is pleased to have reached a settlement with Renewal by Andersen to end discrimination that excluded District residents east of the Anacostia River from the company’s service area,” he said. “Under District law, businesses are required to serve residents equally, regardless of where they live. My office is committed to protecting residents’ civil rights and we will take action if we find evidence of discrimination.”
Renewal by Andersen LLC serves as the window-replacement subsidiary of Andersen Corp., a Minnesota-based window and door manufacturer. The company operates in 100 markets across the country including the D.C. region, offering its customers in-home consultations, custom replacement windows and window installation.
In March, Barbara Morgan, a former president of the Dupont Park Civic Association and the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations, filed a complaint to the attorney general’s office on the grounds Renewal by Andersen refused her service because she lived in the 20020 zip code, which includes neighborhoods such as Anacostia, Barry Farm and Hillcrest.
“Anybody that knows me knows that I stand up for my rights,” she said. “When I called for service and was told that they don’t come into my area and they would refer me to another contractor, I said, ‘hell no!’ I was not going to take that sitting down and reported it to the attorney general.”
Further investigation by the attorney general’s office found Andersen discriminated against zip codes 20019 and 20032, located east of the river, as well as 20005, 20006, 20010, 20018, 20024 and 20064 on the west side.
The office pursued the Andersen matter on the basis of the D.C. human rights law, considered by legal experts to be the strongest anti-discrimination law in the nation. The law prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability or place of residence.
The settlement with Andersen consists of the company agreeing to provide service equally to all District residents no matter where they live; train its employees about complying with the civil rights law; and pay $50,000 to the city.
Vikram Swaruup works as an assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division in the OAG. Swaruup said Andersen cooperated fully with the investigation and worked amicably to reach the settlement.
Andersen Corp. did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Swaruup said his division will work diligently to investigate claims of bias against District residents and encourages people to let them know of such incidents. Morgan agrees with Swaruup.
“If you feel that you have been wronged, call the attorney general’s office,” she said. “They will investigate and make sure your rights are respected.”