by Stacy M. Brown
Home improvement retailer Home Depot is facing a civil rights lawsuit filed by Larry and Denise Boggs, disabled African American veterans, who claim the company purposefully discriminated against them and denied them services based on their race and disabilities.
The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, accuses Home Depot of violating various laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the New York State Human Rights Law, and federal civil rights statutes.
According to the complaint, the Boggs sought assistance from Home Depot to make their home more accessible for Denise, who uses a wheelchair due to a below-the-knee amputation.
The Home Depot Foundation, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Home Depot, had entered into a contract in October 2017 to perform construction improvements on the Boggs’ home, ensuring ADA compliance and meeting Denise’s needs.
However, the Boggs allege that Home Depot and its affiliates breached the contract and discriminated against them based on their race and disabilities.
The lawsuit claims that the company failed to complete the agreed-upon improvements, withheld necessary building supplies, and performed faulty work that violated local building codes.
Additionally, Home Depot allegedly misused grant funds for building materials to purchase unrelated tools.
The Boggs also claim that Home Depot employees informed them that work on their home would be delayed due to the return of Hasidic Jewish residents for the summer.
When the couple contacted Home Depot to address the ongoing issues, they said company officials told them to complete the work themselves, with Home Depot employees providing only minimal assistance.
The lawsuit asserts violations of the ADA, breach of contract, violations of the New York State Human Rights Law, and federal civil rights statutes.
The couple seeks compensatory and punitive damages, declaratory relief, attorney’s fees, and other appropriate relief.
Home Depot, which operates over 2,200 stores across the United States, including numerous locations in New York State, has yet to issue a public statement regarding the lawsuit.
Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Philip M. Halpern rejected Home Depot’s motion to dismiss the race and disability discrimination suit filed by the Boggs.
Judge Halpern ruled that the couple sufficiently proved that Home Depot employees had prioritized work for white, Hasidic Jewish residents, causing the abandonment of the Boggs’ home renovation.
Halpern dismissed Home Depot’s argument that the Boggs’ did not have the right to enforce the renovation grant provided by the nonprofit Action Towards Independence Inc.
The judge also found that the Boggs’ had a recognizable property interest in using their own home and that Home Depot’s alleged racial discrimination impacted their ability to utilize their property.
Halpern further ruled that Home Depot must face the couple’s breach of contract claim due to the terms of the grant contract and the Boggs being third-party beneficiaries.
Additionally, Halpern rejected Home Depot’s argument that the disability discrimination claim under the New York Human Rights Law should be dismissed, stating that the law applies when a place of public accommodation discriminates at a private residence.
“This is an elderly Black family in a predominately white and Hasidic Jewish neighborhood,” said the couple’s attorney, Onyuwoma W. Igbokwe.
“They obviously didn’t have the financial capability to take care of their home. Home Depot was supposed to step in there and help them out.”
Source: Published without changes from Washington Informer Newspaper