Cedar Creek Lake

Because Life is Better at the Lake

Transgender discrimination complaint against Athens RV park owner ends in settlement

by

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has written for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. He is now a freelancer who lives in the Cedar Creek Lake area. He is the editor of cedarcreeklake.com. E-mail story ideas to davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.




SEVEN POINTS –The Department of Justice's pursuit of a transgender discrimination complaint filed by two East Texas residents ended recently in a mediated settlement.


Federal officials arranged a mediated settlement recently between an Athens RV park owner and a transgender woman and her female partner.



In the settlement order dated July 9, George Toone, owner of Texan RV Park, continued to deny the discrimination allegations, but he agreed to pay Roxann Joganik and Darlina Anthony $4,000 to settle the case. Both the defendants and the complainants agreed in the settlement they would make no negative or critical comments of the other, and they agreed not to reveal any communications between them after reaching the agreement.



Joganik said that while she could not make any statements about the RV park owner, she criticized the Department of Justice for its handling of the case. Most discrimination cases get larger settlements, she claimed.



“I didn’t get a fair deal because I’m transgender,” Joganik said. “They don’t give a hoot.”



Joganik said she believed the federal employees who assisted her failed to “understand what it means to be transgender,” which led them to seek a quick, easy settlement.



The Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a charge of discrimination in August against the Athens RV park owner after investigating a complaint by the transgender woman and her female partner who now live in Seven Points.


The action was believed to be one of the first few investigations by HUD to proceed to the trial stage since the federal agency adopted a new policy in March 2012 banning discrimination against LGBT people.


If the charge of discrimination had been upheld in a federal administrative hearing or a U.S. federal district court the park owner could have been fined $16,000 and been required to reimburse the complainants for damages. The damages could have included moving expenses and compensation for emotional distress.


Joganik and Anthony filed the complaint in the summer of 2012 against George and Amy Toone and In Toone Services, LLC, owners of Texan RV Park on Highway 175 West in Athens. The complainants alleged that the Toones discriminated against them on the basis of sex on May 15, 2012, and again on Aug. 18, 2012.


After the park owner refused to accept a rent payment from them and successfully pursued an eviction in now-deceased Justice of the Peace Henry S. Ashford's court in Henderson County, Joganik offered to move to her son's residence so Anthony could remain, according to the couple. The park owner again refused to accept the rent payment, leading to the dual charge, they said.


The pair amended the complaints in February 2013 to add charges of harassment and intimidation after the Toones, who were represented by Dallas lawyer Casey Erick, allegedly "sought and assisted in the publication of articles on a campground management website," according to the complaint outlined in HUD documents.


The articles allegedly contained "inaccurate and negative information about complainant Joganik for the purpose of harassing and intimidating her" in violation of federal law, according to the allegations in the documents.


The Toones denied the allegations of discrimination, claiming that the complainants' recreational vehicle did not "constitute a dwelling" and should be exempt from the federal housing law. They claimed the owners of the recreational vehicles in the park were not tenants, but instead guests.


The respondents also maintained that Joganik and Anthony were asked to leave the park because Joganik would not sign the park rules, the pair disrupted other guests' use of the park and that Joganik had killed park wildlife. Joganik identified the wildlife as turtles in a pond that were eating the bait off her fish hooks.


Federal officials found "reasonable cause" of "discriminatory housing practices" by the park owner in the case, according to HUD documents in the possession of the complainants. But the officials rejected the complaint against the owner's wife and the allegations of intimidation and harassment.


Joganik and Anthony previously said they were confident they would prevail in the HUD proceedings.



A spokeswoman for Texan RV Park said the owner would have no comment about the case at the time it was filed. Erick, the attor




Tell us what you think!

Harbor Light Villas on Cedar Creek Lake

Cedar Creek Lake Email Updates


 

Cedar Creek Lake is on Facebook!

 
Follow us on           

Visit our Cedar Creek Lake Sponsors!

Cedar Creek Lake Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.

 

Cedar Creek Lake Weather Forecast

Tuesday

Sunny

Hi: 76

Tuesday Night

Clear

Lo: 50

Wednesday

Mostly Sunny

Hi: 80

Wednesday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 55

Thursday

Mostly Cloudy

Hi: 80

Thursday Night

Mostly Cloudy

Lo: 61

Friday

Chance Thunderstorms

Hi: 79

Friday Night

Slight Chance Thunderstorms

Lo: 67


Cedar Creek Lake Water Level (last 30 days)


Water Level on 10/17: 320.46 (-1.54)