Real estate investment firm Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) has filed a lawsuit against the city of Santa Barbara, alleging that the city’s “stereotypical real estate agents” discriminated against African-American customers, according to the Santa Barbara Union Tribune.
The lawsuit alleges that the company’s agents were hired to recruit and advise Black customers, and then told that they could not work for the firm because they are “too Black.”
In a statement, REIT said it was “disappointed” with the decision to sue.
“REIT stands by its commitment to our diverse workforce, and our clients are committed to doing business with us in a fair and inclusive manner,” said REIT Chief Operating Officer Tom Bostick.
“We are disappointed that the Santa Maria City Attorney chose to bring this lawsuit and have now taken it to the U.S. District Court for Santa Barbara.”
The Santa Barbara City Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Santa Maria-based REIT has been sued more than a dozen times in the past year, according the Santa Monica News Group.
The company has previously said it is investigating complaints from its customers about discriminatory hiring practices.
Last month, the company filed a motion in U.K. court in London alleging that Black employees were hired for their experience as real estate agent agents, not for their skills as realtors.
The motion said the company is currently “evaluating our legal options” in response to the allegations.
The U.N. body’s Fair Housing Office has also investigated the alleged discrimination claims, and has determined that Real Estate Investor Trusts have a duty to investigate claims of racism.
The complaint filed in Santa Barbara’s U.R.T.D.A. court says that REIT employees were paid “in a manner that discriminated against Black customers because they were ‘too Black,’ or because they had a particular race of race.”
According to the lawsuit, Real Estate Investors Trusts are required to investigate complaints of racism, but are not required to act on complaints.
“Real Estate Investors have the duty to act as agents and/or advisors for the purposes of promoting the fair and equitable utilization of the resources available to them, in order to promote and protect the rights and property interests of their customers,” the lawsuit reads.
REIT was founded in 2009 and has about $1.6 billion in assets under management.
The firm says that it employs about 8,500 people and is one of the largest real estate investment trusts in the world.
The group says that Real House Realty Investment Trusts in the U, U.A., and U.B.E. “have a collective turnover of more than $6 billion.”