The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) is using its legal defense fund to offset a portion of the legal expenses incurred by a Texas park operator who paid $50,000 in settlement and attorney fees last year to settle a federal discrimination complaint.
ARVC reported in a news release that George Toone of Texan RV Park near Athens settled the case out of court last year after spending two years litigating a discrimination complaint involving a transgendered person and that person’s female partner.
The complaint was filed by U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“I’m very grateful and thankful that we received the financial help from ARVC,” Toone said. “I think this case is a victory for RV parks in general.”
The complainants alleged that Toone discriminated against them on the basis of sex on May 15, 2012, and again on Aug. 18, 2012.
In the settlement order, Toone denied the discrimination allegations, but he agreed to pay a settlement to Roxann Joganik — formerly known as Scott Pepos — and Darlina Anthony to settle the case.
HUD adopted a new policy in March 2012 banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. But in addition to denying the allegations of discrimination, Toone claimed that the complainant’s RV did not “constitute a dwelling” and, therefore, should be exempt from federal housing law.
The case got ARVC’s attention precisely because private parks provide temporary overnight accommodations, like hotels, and not housing.
“This case had implications for the whole campground industry,” said Al Johnson, chairman of ARVC’s Government Affairs Committee. “The campground industry is not a housing enterprise. It is not regulated by HUD. And we want to make sure that it stays that way and that our industry is viewed as an accommodations business and not housing.”