FREMONT -- The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit Friday against the owner of a Fremont apartment complex alleging discrimination against families with children.

The lawsuit alleges the owners and staff of Woodland Garden Apartments, a 37-unit building, discriminated against families with children by enforcing a policy that prohibited children from playing outside in the common grassy areas, justice department officials said.

Complex owner Fred Martin and manager Fatima Rivera are named in the suit, as is Alfredo Rivera, a former maintenance worker who enforced the policy.

The lawsuit came about after five families living at the complex working at the nonprofit Project Sentinel filed complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Federal prosecutors are seeking a court order prohibiting future discrimination, monetary damages for those harmed by the policy and a civil penalty.



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