Landlord in 'White Only' pool discrimination case may face penalties

(FOX19) - A Westwood landlord who placed a "White Only" sign at the entrance to her swimming pool was at the center of a hearing Friday, held by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

However, Jaime Hein did not attend the hearing, nor has she responded to any of the filings in the case, so she has forfeited her right to appeal the commission's ruling.

The commission earlier ruled that Hein discriminated against a black teenage girl by posting the sign.

During the hearing, Elizabeth Gerrard said she received several text messages from Hein who claimed the teenager's hair product clogged the pool filter.

When the "White Only" sign went up, Gerrard says she knew it was directed at her boyfriend's bi-racial daughter. "I thought it was directed at raven. Because raven is the only black person that I have ever seen on her property."

Elizabeth Brown, Executive Director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal, says incidents like this give the city a bad name. "Cincinnati has had a reputation of being a racist city, and I don't think today that that's justified and when things like this happen that are so outrageous it sort of puts that old reputation back in people's minds."

Michael Gunn, who filed the complaint, says for months he worked hard to keep his daughter from knowing about the sign, but now he says the truth about racism needs to be known. "I just want people to know that there are still people like this and cases like this that are still out there."

Gunn says the ordeal has been stressful, but not completely bad. "It's kind of strengthened our relationship in a way. She knows I'm looking out for her."

Hein now faces up to $10,000 in punitive damages, lawyers fees for the victims, plus she may have to pay out awards for pain and suffering.

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