Indian-Origin Man Sues Philadelphia Condo Association for Alleged Religious Bias

Akhil Tripathi a resident of the Murano building in Philadelphia, was asked to remove a toran hung on the entrance to his hallway by the condo association.


An Indian-origin man from Philadelphia has filed a lawsuit against his condominium association for alleged religious discrimination. The condo association had asked Akhil Tripathi to remove a toran hung on the entrance to his hallway several times, saying it’s against rules.

Tripathi, who follows the Hindu religion, has been residing in the Murano building in Philadelphia for nine years. But now a toran displayed on his hallway entrance is causing a furore in the building. According to Tripathi, who was born in India, there was never a problem with the toran earlier, but the condo association members said that the rules changed a few months ago. Tripathi has been threatened with legal action if he doesn’t get rid of the artifact put up on the doorway, CBS Philly reported.

Earlier this year, the Murano condo association warned him that they will remove the toran if Tripathi did not take it down himself. Tripathi has now filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against Murano Condominium Association, NBC 10 reported. “We determined that the only course was to ask the courts to protect him under the Fair Housing Act,” Kevin Toth, Tripathi’s attorney, was quoted as saying by CBS Philly.

“This is the last thing I expected that somebody would take this as a major issue. I sent them information and stuff and these two or three people said they decided that this is not acceptable and you must take it down. If you don’t take it down, we will take it down,” Tripathi, a former University of Pennsylvania engineering professor, said, as per the report.

The toran, a beaded decoration, was a gift from Tripathi’s daughter and had been blessed by a Hindu priest before Tripathi put it up above the entrance to his condo. “It’s a symbol of goddess Lakshmi that says this house is blessed,” he told NBC 10, adding that it is bad luck to move a toran. “This symbol is not intrusive to anybody else.”

According to court documents, the association passed a policy in February this year allowing religious decorations only during holidays. The Jewish Mezuzah was one of several approved exceptions to the policy that could remain in place throughout the year, as per NBC 10.

“Subject to the prior approval of the Executive Board, a small religious article (such as a Mezuzah or the like) may be attached to the exterior frame of a Unit door, but not to the door itself,” the rules set by the board stated, CBS Philly reported.

Tripathi said that he is going to stand up for his beliefs and principles, the report added. “I have no intention of taking the toran down, so I’m going to fight this battle to whatever extent it takes because this is wrong,” he said.

Murano Condo Association did not comment on the case, according to the reports.

1 Comment

  1. Chuck

    May 4, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    It would be interesting to see what the Condo Documents say about mezuzahs, for instance. Unfortunately, I don’t have the Declaration of Condominium for the Murano, but the documents are recorded with the city if anyone wants to go to room 54 at City Hall to view them.

    If the documents make a dispensation for that religious adornment, they should make one for the toran. While a mezuzah may be less visually obvious, my assumption is that the Condo Documents for the Murano ban anything from being hung on the exterior of the unit or prohibit items being placed in the common elements. This could be the crux of Mr. Tripathi’s argument.

    If you permit a mezzuzah for religious reasons, then you should permit the toran.

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